Medical speech recognition software is used within the healthcare field to help maintain patient records, and reduce time and staff requirements. While several varieties of these programs are available, all speech recognition technology operates on the same principle. Speech-to-text software listens to an audio input and identifies the most likely word that is spoken. The two broad types of this medical technology are front-end and back-end speech systems.
Front-end medical speech recognition takes place as soon as a voice command is given. This type of speech software is typically installed directly on a computer device at the healthcare location. Front-end recognition occurs nearly in real time, and allows users to immediately see the words on a screen. The advantage of this variety of recognition technology is speed; by viewing the transcribed text as soon as it is spoken, a healthcare professional can quickly change the document without delay.
A front-end speech recognition system has several disadvantages, however. Recognition software must run on a fairly powerful hardware device, such as a laptop or desktop computer. This requirement means that healthcare workers typically must be in an office to complete the dictation. Front-end systems are usually not suited for mobile personnel, such as a physician making rounds throughout a hospital. This variety of medical speech recognition is also prone to errors, since a professional transcriptionist is not verifying the dictation.
Back-end medical speech recognition systems, in contrast, do not immediately transcribe spoken words. Instead, audio is recorded digitally and processed at a later time. In general, this approach eliminates the need for a powerful on-site computer, and allows a healthcare worker to carry only a lightweight voice recorder. This system is particularly useful for professionals who are frequently on their feet, and need to make verbal notes while mobile.
The audio files captured by a back-end speech recognition system are typically processed by a dedicated support team or an outsourced service provider. Editors are able to review the computer-generated transcript, and compare it with the recorded audio. A medical transcription service often has access to very powerful computers and the most modern speech recognition software. These advantages significantly increase the accuracy of back-end medical speech recognition, compared to front-end solutions.
In addition to transcription, speech recognition can also be used for simple voice commands. Simplified medical speech recognition programs can be used to quickly interact with an office computer. This type of software allows medical coders and receptionists to use verbal commands to search patient records. Simplified voice command programs are often pre-installed in modern computer operating systems, and can be used for basic voice commands in non-critical situations.