Are Medical Dictation Devices Necessary?
Medical dictation devices have proved valuable to care providers since the HITECH Act drastically changed medical documentation, but to understand their value and necessity we must understand how medical dictation devices work and differ from one another. What we do know, however, is that dictation devices are a solutionary approach to the complex issue of medical documentation — a problem that desperately needs a device that is totally transformative.
The shift in medical documentation has created a void for numerous solution based tools and devices to fill. As costs, security risks, and the COVID-19 pandemic continue to steer physicians away from medical scribes, many are choosing to adopt medical dictation devices instead.
Medical dictation devices, in their truest form, are voice capturing tools that doctors use to generate a spoken medical report. Usually, these dictated reports are then sent off to third party medical transcriptionists to be crafted into a medical note and applied into an EHR.
Medical dictation devices have proved valuable to care providers since the HITECH Act drastically changed medical documentation, but to understand their value and necessity we must understand how medical dictation devices work and differ from one another.
Traditional Medical Dictation Devices
Traditional medical dictation devices are tools that record a doctor's voice and convert it to a secure audio file. These devices are most commonly used after a patient visit and allow doctors to substitute their voice in place of typing a medical note. Simply: dictation, not typing.
These dictated reports contain the pertinent medical information that a doctor draws from a patient visit (history, charts, diagnosis, treatment, care and so on) and are sent off to a HIPAA compliant medical transcriptionist who converts the audio file into a SOAP medical note. In the wake of a shifting medical documentation landscape, these devices have done well to relieve physicians of some of their clerical load.
Advanced Medical Dictation Devices
Typically, dictated audio files captured by a traditional dictation device must be sent to a certified transcriptionist in order to be documented and transcribed into a medical note. These days, there are a handful of emerging dictation companies that rely on the power of AI, speech-to-text technology and voice recognition software to remove the transcriptionist altogether.
With these devices, physicians dictate the information from a patient encounter and the device not only captures that spoken report, but is also capable of populating the discrete fields within a medical note or EHR. Of course, the nature of dictation means that the doctor must specifically prompt the device to complete those specific fields or log certain criteria, but it helps speed up the process of documentation by eliminating transcriptionists.
This also means physicians don’t need to pay a third party medical transcriptionist for their services or endure long turnaround times for their completed medical notes.
Cons of Medical Dictation Devices
Relieving Typing, not Documentation
The primary downside of any medical dictation device, traditional or advanced, is that while it relieves the burden of typing a medical note, it does not relieve the burden of documenting a patient encounter.
Physicians still must sit down and dictate the information and findings from an entire patient visit. Not only does this take time, but it requires an immense level of recall from the patient encounter itself. In order to stay on top of everything covered during the visit, a doctor will either need to take notes or use a different recording device to ensure they don’t miss any pertinent info. This process inherently takes time and mental energy, and while dictation devices may prevent a physician from having to type their notes, it essentially just replaces it with a different, only slightly better approach.
AI-powered dictation devices allow doctors to break free from medical transcriptionists and their associated costs, but because this software is so much more advanced than traditional medical dictation devices, the financial gain made from the switch isn’t as meaningful as promised. Using advanced dictation devices simply substitutes transcriptionists with a tool that works, but is still not incredibly efficient or cost effective. As mentioned above, advanced dictation devices relieve certain burdens only to replace them with others.
But Are Medical Dictation Devices Really Necessary?
How individual physicians choose to work is deeply personal, and we don’t see our role in this industry as telling people what or what not to do. What we do know, however, is that medical dictation devices are a solutionary approach to the complex issue of medical documentation — a problem that desperately needs a device that is totally transformative.
Up until recently, there have not been any all-encompassing solutions available to doctors that can totally take care of all of their needs. Some use scribes, some use dictation devices, some use transcriptionists, some use nothing at all. All of these solutions attack a different set of problems, and are good at addressing certain issues, but not as good at addressing others. The choice to use any particular one is personal and physicians are entitled to that process.
Here at DeepScribe, all we want is for physicians to know that we have designed an all-encompassing device that can totally transform the difficulties tied to medical documentation. Our device uses multiple AI languages that work together to totally automate a physician's entire workflow. DeepScribe listens in on a patient visit, extracts relevant information, and autonomously creates a medical note that seamlessly integrates into any EHR platform. No writing, no typing, no dictation.
To us, that type of device is necessary.