Can speech recognition software save the NHS?

Healthcare IT

Can speech recognition software save the NHS?

Clare McDonald

The pathology department at Plymouth Hospital NHS Trust is using voice dictation software from Nuance to streamline the processing of tissue samples.

In pathology, there can be backlogs in processing samples due to the time-intensive process required to produce a report based on a laboratory examination of a tissue sample. 

Femal doctor with laptop.jpg

The clinicians use digital voice recordings which need to be transcribed, and for the lab analysis an assistant is normally needed to take notes during the processing of tissue samples.

Voice recognition software – Dragon Medical and TalkingPoint for Pathology – is being used at the Plymouth Hospital Trust to produce written reports at several points during diagnosis and treatment. 

Due to the immediate nature of the software, seven man hours are saved per day, according to Dean Harmse, departmental head of dermatopathology at the Trust.

Harmse said his department is able to process pathology samples 60% faster using the speech recognition software. 

"We have used speech recognition and redesigned our workflow to improve turnaround time," he said.

Due to the backlog of patients who were waiting for a cancer diagnosis, the nature of the work taking place in the facility meant that although a diagnosis may have already been made patients were not receiving their results promptly.

Previously, when a tissue sample was taken from a patient, it would be assigned a barcode and passed to the pathology lab for analysis by a biomedical scientist.

Madeleine Stephens, biomedical scientist for the Plymouth Hospital NHS Trust, said voice dictation allows her to input her findings directly to the pathology computer system, as opposed to relying on a human assistant to transcribe.

"There is no need for an assistant [to take notes] so voice dictation reduces staffing. You have to check the computer screen, so it is also less error prone," she said.

Staff at Plymouth Hospital NHS Trust save time with voice dictation software


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