May 29, 2008 -- Speech recognition technology showed its worth in a recent study from Helsinki University Central Hospital in Finland, where report turnaround time was reduced by more than 80%.
As noted in the Finnish study, speech recognition is becoming more applicable for an increasing number of languages, with a specific vocabulary required for each medical specialty to heighten word recognition levels.
The Finnish language "is very challenging for speech recognition because the vocabulary is very wide and there are many different words to evolve from one word body," said Tomi A. Kauppinen, co-author of the Helsinki study. "We had to create our own Finnish context for radiology."
Kauppinen detailed study results at the recent annual meeting of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) in Seattle.
The Finnish hospital produces approximately 70,000 studies annually, 44,000 of which are x-rays, 10,500 are CT, and 5,100 are MR images, in addition to fluoroscopic interventions and sonography. SpeechMagic from Philips Speech Recognition Systems of Vienna, Austria, was the technology of choice integrated into the hospital's RIS.
The pilot project was initiated in the radiology department in the hospital's trauma unit, which provides trauma care, orthopedics, plastic surgery, and neurosurgery for 1.5 million people in southern Finland. Report turnaround time was defined as the time from imaging at the modality to the time the report was available for the clinician.
Fourteen radiologists participated in the pilot project, with the number of radiologists increasing by 2007 as more were trained on the technology.
The study began with a baseline sample of 6,037 cassette-based reports in the first quarter of 2005. The average time for report turnaround was 24 hours and 46 minutes. When speech recognition technology was adopted by the first quarter of 2006, the three-month period saw average report turnaround time drop to five hours and 23 minutes, based on 6,486 radiology exams.
In the third segment of the study, for the second quarter of 2007, average report turnaround time declined to four hours and 40 minutes, with radiologists handling 13,021 exams.
Report turnaround time
"The proportion of reports created by speech recognition increased to almost 100% by July 2007," Kauppinen said. Complete adoption was not achieved because trauma hospital residents must create some reports manually for teaching purposes, especially CT and MRI studies.
The study concluded that speech recognition speeds up the entire patient care process and decreases report turnaround time by more than 80%, according to Kauppinen.
He noted that one surprise from the study was that speech recognition "was easily adopted and well accepted by radiologists." Only 10 to 15 minutes of training was sufficient to adopt speech recognition, with new users taught on the system by one staff radiologist.
By Wayne Forrest
AuntMinnie.com staff writer May 29, 2008
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