Can voice tech be a building block for patient safety?

In a fast-paced, high-stakes field such as healthcare, it’s no surprise that burnout rates are high. In 2020, data from the National Academy of Medicine revealed that between 35%-54% of nurses and physicians (and 45%-60% of medical students and residents) experienced feelings of burnout. The COVID-19 pandemic made the situation even worse, with the healthcare industry losing an estimated 20% of its workforce over the past two years, including 30% of nurses, according to several recent studies. This, coupled with increased patient handling, has led to an alarming situation in which medical professionals must make more diagnoses and care for more patients while trying to sustain healthy working conditions.

Caring for those who care for patients

Unfortunately, patient care can suffer when doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are under such pressures. Each year on September 17, the World Health Organization (WHO) observes World Patient Safety Day. As one of the WHO’s global health campaigns, it is meant to drive various ways to prevent and reduce risks, errors, and harm to patients – and foundational to that goal is overall well-being and workplace optimization for those who care for them.

How does speech-to-text fit in? 

In any industry, improved process efficiency, automation, and communication would be desirable. In healthcare, it can mean the difference between a nurse leaving their shift on time and having to work several hours of overtime, exhausted and prone to human error. Or the difference between a doctor being able to spend quality time with patients instead of rushing through the day’s appointments. Voice technologies help drive operational excellence that can alleviate many of the burdens and stressors healthcare professionals face, which can ultimately impact patient care. A few examples include:

Evening out the scales for work-life balance

Documentation and administration comprise a necessary but very time-consuming part of working in healthcare. This is where speech-to-text tools can accelerate tasks that not only save time, but also prevent mental exhaustion that leads to potentially harmful mistakes. Simply speaking notes, instructions, etc. (vs. having to type them or navigate lengthy on-screen menus), for example, gets data into EHRs more quickly. These tools also help short-staffed facilities serve their communities and keep healthcare professionals from burning out by streamlining workflows and mitigating overwork.

Wearing many hats: The art of workload balancing

Many healthcare organizations rely on shared resources such as transcriptionists and support staff. Because advanced speech-to-text solutions can be deployed in or across departments, these shared resources can equitably allocate workloads and avoid bottlenecks or overburdening individuals. Again, this contributes to the overall operation running more smoothly so they can in turn better care for patients. 

The right tools for the modern healthcare landscape

Patient care doesn’t just happen at the hospital or doctor’s office anymore, with the increasing adoption of telehealth across many specialty areas. Further, many healthcare professionals split their time among multiple physical locations but need records and documentation to remain consistent. With secure, cloud-based voice applications, they can not only conduct work seamlessly, but also get peace of mind that patient data and other sensitive information remains private through features such as E2E encryption, secure storage and data transfer, role-based access, and more.

A key element for improved outcomes? Flexibility

Beyond working remotely or from different locations, healthcare professionals are increasingly working on different platforms as well. Speech-to-text applications that allow continuity between desktops, laptops, mobile, and other devices are extremely beneficial. Doctors can speak notes into a smartphone, for example, and have them properly routed to support team members based onsite or remotely for processing and final delivery. Such flexibility enables healthcare professionals to have consistent and accurate patient care information and mitigates points of failure in manual, cross-platform data transfer.

Working in healthcare is often demanding, grueling, taxing…but also immensely rewarding and worthwhile. In the post-pandemic landscape, it’s more important than ever to support those who save lives on a daily basis. As we prepare to observe World Patient Safety Day, let’s remember that healthcare heroes are fundamental to keeping patients healthy, happy, and well cared-for.

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