June 27, 2008

Medical Transcription: Automation is Driving Growth in Speech Recognition

Healthcare automation is driving growth in speech technology, with the leading vendors providing specialized solutions, according to a new report by Datamonitor. Although use of PC-based speech recognition is not widespread, the technology has found its niche in the healthcare market, where automation and cost savings are key drivers.

Tight budgets and the need for accurate patient records are forcing healthcare providers to automate processes with speech recognition. In order to reduce the error rate in diagnosis and ensure that information is recorded efficiently, healthcare providers are adopting electronic health records (EHRs).

By dictating notes directly into EHRs, using speech recognition with digital dictation systems, doctors can update information faster and with lower error rates. Patient information is gradually becoming digitized in order to deliver test results and records more quickly. By reducing the number of illegible handwritten documents and simplifying processes, providers can eradicate errors in diagnosis.

Speech recognition is also being used for medical transcription, easing pressure on transcriptionists and allowing healthcare providers to save on staffing costs. Medical transcription is estimated to be a multi-billion dollar market and speech recognition vendors are taking advantage of this.

Healthcare currently represents 85% of the PC- and server-based speech recognition market. Datamonitor estimates that the market for speech recognition in healthcare globally is worth an estimated $170m in 2008. Between 2008 and 2013 the market will more than double in size.

Imaging is one area in which speech recognition has seen a significant uptake, as an increasing number of radiologists use the technology to dictate reports. Radiologists work in controlled environments using specialized vocabularies to dictate reports that, as they often use repeated language, are an ideal target for speech recognition vendors.

Healthcare is not the only industry where speech recognition is thriving. Investments in speech technology are expected to grow in the professional services, where it can help with legal transcription. The technology is also likely to be increasingly used to assist with language learning in education. However, healthcare will remain the largest market for speech recognition through 2013.

The introduction of digital dictation and EHRs has given speech recognition new channels to market. Speech technology adoption will increase as it becomes more tightly integrated with these solutions to provide a seamless document production process.