Key Benefits of Speech Recognition Technology for SaaS in Healthcare

In light of the global pandemic, a growing number of SaaS businesses are seeking to tap into the healthcare sector. In fact, IT and medical services are among the most promising industries, attracting international investors and showing a high potential for growth.

While established names and solutions offering speech recognition in healthcare are represented, the market is wide-open to new players offering better pricing and customizable solutions.

Let’s take a close look at why voice recognition technology in healthcare is so promising, and how SaaS companies can benefit from adopting it.

The global need for voice recognition healthcare apps

The global healthcare sector has been experiencing a shortage of medical workers and caring staff. Should it be necessary that part of a team go on a mandatory quarantine, due to exposure to COVID or other diseases, a hospital may experience a lack of resources to accommodate the needs of its patients. Moreover, given how long it takes to earn the proper qualifications combined with the extremely high global competition rates, recruiting new healthcare professionals is no small task.

As a result, hospitals and clinics have had to find ways to optimize their processes — for example, by adopting voice recognition technology in healthcare.

The statistics are bleak: on average, it is not uncommon for a medical worker to spend up to 6 hours a day simply filling in medical records. Be it due to sleep deprivation, whatever the cause, patients are not getting the dedicated support that they deserve. Furthermore, existing medical speech to text solutions are often cumbersome, relying on the user to dictate all punctuation in slow motion and often require subsequent manual transcription.

Given the seriousness of the situation, there is a growing need for an effective time-saving solution that allows physicians to focus on saving lives rather than arguing over grammar and punctuation with medical dictation for Mac software.

Benefits of speech recognition technology in healthcare offered by SaaS providers

The basic software solution for healthcare professionals is simple: medical speech to text conversion.

However, to stand out from the competition, SaaS companies who are willing to address this challenge need to focus their development and marketing efforts on the following benefits of voice recognition software in healthcare:

  1. Accessibility from any device, including smartphones, tablets, and PC recording devices.
  2. Voice recognition medical transcription with time-saving and hassle-free automatic punctuation. 
  3. Error-free transfer of data to standard medical records (e.g. the EHR form in the US).
  4. Voice recognition medical glossary that allows the user to select their regional accent and dictation speed.  
  5. AI analytics of Big Data based on the patient’s medical history.
  6. Possibility to export medical speech recognition data to popular clinical IT platforms such as  Cerner, Allscripts, EMIS, CSC, McKesson, Health, Sectra, and others.
  7. No need for further edits or rewording.
  8. Decreases or totally eliminates transcription costs provided by third parties with the help of voice recognition healthcare solutions.
  9. An intuitive interface that clearly shows each action.
  10. Using speech recognition in healthcare for better mobility: allows for on-the-go dictation rather than returning to the office to make records.

Medical speech to text: control medical devices & create documents

Seeking to offer more functionality, SaaS companies can apply speech recognition technology in healthcare in combination with the remote control access of medical devices and document systems.

For instance, a caregiver, whose voice has been previously added to the software, can give voice commands to medical devices that serve patients. Some applications include:

  • maternal and infant care devices (monitoring and alerting devices)
  • oximeter (a small device measuring how well oxygen binds to the red blood cells)
  • medical monitors measuring blood pressure, ECG, and EEG

Remote control access ensures faster operation when dealing with multiple patients and also reduces human contact, which is especially precious in the times of Covid-19. At the same time, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that speech to text medical transcription is enacted only by authorized users, sends commands only via secure Wi-Fi protocols, and is capable of distinguishing clear messages in noisy environments.

Speaking of document creation, it is important to highlight that there has been a steady growth in the adoption of EHR (electronic health records) globally — WHO indicates an increase of 46% in the last 5 years. The EHR market hit $31 billion in 2019 and is expected to increase. These systems often further integrate with pharmacy and laboratory systems, which provides additional opportunities for speech recognition in healthcare SaaS providers. 

Reaping the benefits of speech recognition technology in healthcare, along with EHR systems, should be a key priority for health-tech companies in both developed and developing countries. Being highly condemned as a ‘time waster’ (filling in documents still takes almost half of a physician’s time), electronic medical records do not resolve the issue of paperwork unless SaaS providers improve them with voice recognition healthcare solutions.

Medical speech to text: reduce the number of medical errors

They say, “errare humanum est”, but in a doctor’s case, mistakes can cost lives. In fact, in the USA, medical malpractice is second to motor vehicle accidents as a leading cause of injury. Some 440,000 people die globally due to untimely care and preventable medical errors (Journal of Patient Safety). Johns Hopkins University stresses that physician malpractice is the third-leading cause of death in the US.

Typical medical errors, which could be avoided with the help of voice recognition medical transcription, include:

  • prescription of the wrong medication
  • infections acquired inside the hospital
  • errors related to anesthesia
  • untimely diagnosis and/or delay in treatment
  • absence of an adequate follow-up/monitoring following treatment
  • misinterpretation of test results
  • technical failures
  • inadequate information flow, e.g. if a patient is transferred to another facility
  • lack of knowledge or resources to provide proper consultation
  • inaccurate voice recognition medical transcription if poorly developed software is used
  • patient-related issues (e.g. reluctance to give written consent for risky treatment)

Addressing these issues opens enormous business opportunities for new voice recognition software in healthcare. Check the boxes, check the competition, seize the market, and develop something outstanding.

Medical speech to text: optimize paperwork

Paperwork optimization is one of the key benefits of voice recognition software in healthcare.

The illegible penmanship of a doctor is legendary. Feeling time pressure and having to deal with a high workload, physicians tend to reduce their paperwork as much as possible, which can lead to calligraphy that is not always easy to understand.

With the adoption of electronic health records, the problem of bureaucracy remains unsolved. Firstly, some seasoned professionals of senior age may have little experience with PC, leading to data entry taking more time than handwriting and thus requiring the hiring of additional administrative staff. Secondly, human errors may occur during data entry.

Here is where SaaS providers can offer benefits of speech recognition technology in healthcare:

  • medical speech recognition provides error-free speech to text medical transcription
  • voice recognition software in healthcare provides instant results, meaning that there is no need to hire an external transcriber whos job it is to go over the audio to create notes from a recording
  • voice recognition medical transcription relies on pre-installed medical vocabulary, which ensures correct phrase matching and eliminates the possibility of human error due to the transcriber’s unawareness
  • voice recognition medical records can be imported to EHR systems in real-time
  • if treatment requires visiting more healthcare specialists, they will all be able to instantly access clear, error-free records based on medical speech recognition

Extendable benefits of voice recognition software in healthcare

Jonathon Dreyer from Nuance Communications discusses the various areas that voice recognition is being integrated into mobile health applications at the mHealth Summit.

Voice recognition medical solutions are much broader than one may think. Here are 10 examples of SaaS providers finding their own niche in voice-based healthtech:

  1. ConversationHEALTH creates voice chatbots for pharma companies, which read aloud the benefits of the medication to prescribers.
  2. Kiroku specializes in medical speech to text transcription, specifically for dentists.
  3. Canary Speech uses speech recognition in healthcare practices such as depression, stress, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s treatment.
  4. WinterLight Labs develops vocal biomarkers in the mental health sector, targeting cases of dementia, aphasia, Alzheimer’s disease, or depression.
  5. Aiva Health integrates Amazon Echo to ensure remote communication via voice recognition medical transcription between the care manager and the nursing staff.
  6. Syllable creates voice-based chatbots capable of booking appointments, answering common questions, collecting data for forms, etc.
  7. Voiceitt empowers people with speaking issues to convert their speech into effective communication.
  8. Ava creates automatic subtitles for any kind of communication, thus improving inclusivity for deaf people.
  9. Cuida Health targets elderly people as a one-stop-shop for setting alerts to take medication, communicate with family members, manage hospital appointments, and share their health data remotely.
  10. Memory Lane enables seniors to record stories of their life and share them with their dear ones.

The above are just some examples of how to apply voice recognition technology in healthcare. The market is booming, and there are plenty of opportunities to enter it.

Speech recognition in healthcare: final takeaway

If you are a SaaS provider looking to tap into the healthcare industry, medical speech recognition is definitely a technology to look into. 

Firstly, medical speech recognition saves a physician’s time and eliminates human error.

Secondly, speech to text medical transcription empowers people with reading, hearing, or speaking disabilities.

Finally, voice recognition healthcare apps have endless opportunities for synergies, from EHR integration to remote medical device management and chatbot consultants.

If you are feeling inspired after learning more about the tech side of speech recognition in healthcare, we will be glad to guide you further.

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Challenges Facing the Telehealth Industry

Phones and laptops are now essential medical technology, as doctors’ visits have transitioned from medical offices to patients’ homes. What does it mean to IT?

Cloud communication provider Vonage marks that the former sleepy telehealth industry has jumped more than 2000% in the last month. Their customer, Doxy.me says that 139,000 new health care providers have joined their platform in just one week. They served 1,35 million patients in that week, averaging 170,000 calls each day. Another customer, Doctolib, is doing 100,000 video consultations every single day. Telehealth has suddenly evolved from a “nice to have” to a “need to have” for major health systems.

The reasons for this amazing spike are:

  • Ready-made solution 
  • Advance technologies ubiquity
  • Social distancing
  • Expanded Medicare coverage of telehealth services 
  • Relaxing of HIPAA guidelines 
  • Long term investment 

The meaning of telemedicine is broad. It’s anything from taking care of a patient’s needs through the telephone to actually having patient-doctor video interactions assisted with devices. Telehealth services can deal with a broad scope of problems, including skin concerns, minor infectious diseases, psychiatry, and minor orthopedic problems like sprains. So whether it’s loading information from your smartwatch, using blood pressure cuffs, or a remote stethoscope like Eko Health has built – telemedicine embraces it all.

According to Vidyo survey, healthcare providers identified telehealth as their top IT priority. Next comes the strengthening of data security and implementing EHRs and patient portals. Two-thirds of respondents said they expect their telehealth budget to grow over the next three years.

Notoriously resistant to reform healthcare system provokes a bunch of challenges which we split by reasons:

Legal:

  • Strong compliance. Meeting government standards for clinical data sharing is a tricky matter. Patients worry that their medical data may be hacked or sold. One mistake can lead a hospital, health system, or practice into non-compliance, which can include substantial fines.
  • Multi-state licensure. For all this progress, 21 states still do not allow to practice medicine across state borders presumingly for protecting their local licensees. Thus a provider who is licensed in California can’t provide services in Idaho. However, we can notice some legislative activity from time to time aimed to allow cross-state telehealth.
  • Parity payments. Parity within the telemedicine context means that if you’re seen via Zoom or in-clinic, insurance companies should pay roughly the same amount. Now many doctors ask the patient to come into the office because they won’t get paid otherwise. Though many providers are slowly adding selected telehealth services to their reimbursement rates, the industry reluctance prevents patients from this novel.
  • Slow adoption. In most countries, hospitals have been slow in adopting telemedicine technologies thanks to low IT budgets, legacy systems, and a lack of workforce. However, today’s telemedicine is increasingly run by startups – such as MDLIVE in the U.S., Babylon Health in the UK, and Doktor24 in Sweden – which have until now faced significant challenges in overcoming resistance from established healthcare systems.

IT:

  • Legacy systems. Legacy objections regarding security, interoperability, and infrastructure should and could be addressed with today’s technology. With moving to cloud-based environments, health systems can worry less about maintaining a secure, extensible infrastructure and instead focus more on improving both patient and financial outcomes. Larger health systems now aim to further strategic imperatives such as improving quality, reach, and patient outcomes while containing costs. Telehealth and remote patient monitoring solutions help enable these results.
  • The urgency of development. The virtual hospitals and self-diagnostic gadgets are part of a wider suite of innovations developed at breakneck speed during the pandemic response. Few aspects of the healthcare industry have left untouched in recent months as the COVID-19 pandemic seized the globe. We recommend that organizations look for an open architecture for flexibility and customization, existing integrations into EHR and clinical tools, and a platform with a vast ecosystem of third-party partners. Here you can learn more about Implementing an EHR System to Support Clinical Research that we’ve done for french Pharmaceutical Company.
  • HQ video solutions. Here are the main requirements for telemedicine video providers:
    • The solution must enable HIPAA compliance through 256-bit AES encryption for data in transit and at rest.
    • Seamless integration with EHR and EMR systems. This allows to launch a video visit directly from thу doctor’s workflow and update charts and records in real-time.
    • Ability to work in low-bandwidth environments to bring services to patients in rural.
  • Extra devices. A decade ago, fitness-trackers merely counted steps. Today they measure heart rates, and the latest Apple Watch can create an ECG similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram. Remote devices for telehealth see a surge in demand. On the horizon are devices and apps for home blood testing or biomarker signals capture later sent to physicians for evaluation.

Social:

  • Awareness and adoption – A year ago, patients would rather wait till the next day to see their primary care doctors; these days, they’d chat with a physician. This pandemic has really pushed a lot of us to try telemedicine for the first time. In their 2019 Telehealth Satisfaction Study, J.D. Power reports that customer satisfaction with telehealth services is high: 851 on a 1,000-point scale. 65% of consumers are more likely to use telehealth if the cost is less than a doctor’s office visit.
  • Low-income population. Broadband access, smartphones, and the digital kit that connects to them remain expensive, which means telemedicine may not be viable for the poor or less tech-sophisticated seniors, who need these sorts of novel healthcare solutions the most.
  • Lack of skills. Doctors and patients both need some education. The relevance of digital skills in the COVID-19 is necessary work that must be done.

Conclusion: Telehealth has helped expand access to care when the pandemic has severely restricted patients’ ability to see their doctors. It is not a solution to the current crisis, but it will be one of its lasting consequences. Today, actions taken by healthcare and IT leaders will determine if the full potential of telehealth is realized after the crisis has passed.