What Is Medical Speech Recognition And Why Is It Important For Physical Therapy?

Joseph Elevado

Jun 23, 2023

A 2022 survey by athenahealth on physicians’ perception of the current state of healthcare revealed that 57% of burnout incidents are due to “excessive documentation.” To address this issue, many providers are looking to medical speech recognition — but what is it, what value does it provide, and how is it being used by physical therapists (PTs)?

Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Medical Speech Recognition?

In its simplest form, medical speech recognition refers to the process of converting recorded speech to a text-based transcript. More complex variations of medical speech recognition can include diarization, the process of tagging specific speakers in the transcript, and even topic classification and tagging within the transcript.

For physical therapists, medical speech recognition is a powerful tool that can dramatically reduce time spent on notes and improve the PT’s ability to engage with and treat the patient.

What Are the Benefits Of Medical Speech Recognition for PTs?

Medical speech recognition software has numerous benefits over traditional note-taking, allowing physical therapists to streamline the documentation process.

These include:

  • More focus on the patient - Recording and transcribing the audio after the appointment lets you focus on the patient, unlike note-taking, which splits your attention during the appointment
  • Fuller context and understanding - Note-taking may only include parts of the conversation and can only be fully understood by the note taker. On the other hand, transcripts contain the entire conversation, giving full context to those reading it
  • Reliability - Audio recordings and transcripts serve as very reliable reference materials for medical reports and patient histories

Plus, you can annotate transcripts to extract more insights long after the appointment.

Where Are PTs Using Medical Speech Recognition?

There are 2 approaches that PTs usually take to utilize medical speech recognition:

1. Medical Dictation

PTs may apply a hybrid of note-taking and audio recording where they take short notes during the appointment and record their findings after the encounter.

This helps them have a continuous line of thought during their work. Combined with medical speech recognition, it provides PTs with a reliable reference when planning the next step of treatment.

Unfortunately, this approach has some limitations, such as:

  • Errors in transcription - Background noise and low-resolution audio may pose transcription challenges for some medical speech recognition software
  • Lack of information - PTs may unintentionally leave out some information during their post-appointment dictation which can be problematic in the future
  • Split focus during the encounter - Taking notes during the appointment can make it challenging for PTs to focus on the patient fully.

2. Recording The Patient Encounter

PTs may record the entire patient encounter, allowing them to fully focus fully on the patient and provide clear medical instructions. After the appointment, the PT uses medical speech recognition to process the audio recording.

This approach provides them with a highly reliable reference that provides full context of the patient encounter. However, it also falls at risk of violating HIPAA regulations for divulging sensitive patient information. This is especially when the medical speech recognition software fails at protecting the uploaded audio recording or the resulting transcript.

Why Use Medical Documentation Services?

While medical speech recognition software may be beneficial to medical documentation, it has considerable drawbacks which can affect a PT’s workflow.

Here are some examples of its limitations:

  • Transcription errors - Complex audio can cause misinterpretations, which lead the PTs to spend more time scanning and correcting the transcript for errors
  • Complex terminology - Medical jargon and terminology may prove challenging for software to correctly process
  • HIPAA violations - Dubious or faulty medical speech recognition software can lead the audio recording or transcript to fall into the wrong hands and risk divulging sensitive patient information

If accuracy, safety, and convenience are the top priorities with documentation, medical documentation services may be worth considering.

Rather than using software to process audio, medical documentation services employ human expertise to process and transcribe audio recordings of medical dictations and patient encounters.

Plus, they’re highly versatile and can fine-tune your transcripts with features like speaker labelinglabelling and verbatim transcription to cater to a PT’s style.

However, there are many documentation services available online — which one should you use?

Choose a versatile provider that offers a suite of services specializing in physical therapy and adapts to each therapist’s documentation style.

ScribePT, for instance, is a platform that works well with any EMR system and enables you to:

  • Prepare notes more efficiently before an appointment
  • Receive highly accurate transcripts made by expert scribes assisted by AI tools
  • Update your EMR seamlessly from verbal dictation

If you want to learn more about how ScribePT can enhance your medical documentation process, contact us or request a demo!

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