Why Kootenai Health invested in speech recognition technology

Documentation is a key piece of the revenue cycle — accurate and complete coding depends on it. With the advent of ICD-10, documentation has only become more important, and the health IT field has risen to the occasion with a number of different solutions. Kootenai Health, based in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, recently implemented Nuance Dragon Medical speech recognition and Dragon Medical Advisor computer-assisted physician documentation to supports its documentation process.


Stephanie Lahr, MD, CMIO of Kootenai Health, offers her perspective on the benefits of this technology.

Editor's note: Interview has been lightly edited for clarity and concision.

Question: How does speech recognition technology help with day-to-day operations?

Dr. Stephanie Lahr: For Kootenai Health, the biggest benefit is that we can now get complete information in the patient's record in real-time. Dragon Medical Advisor can analyze patient notes and suggest ways to provide additional specificity or detail. This allows for better access to a patient's complete record and allows physicians to produce more accurate documentation, while helping to reduce post-discharge queries and other questions.

Q: What recent advances in healthcare have impacted speech recognition and transcription technology?

SL: With ICD-10, physicians have 68,000 diagnosis and 72,000 procedure codes to choose from while documenting their visits with patients. That results in a situation where physicians are forced to spend more time documenting information and less time delivering actual patient care. Physicians need tools to help relieve this burden, and that's where speech recognition and transcription come in. As the need increases, these technologies become more and more evolved.

Q: How do you expect this technology to evolve over the next few years?

SL: Over the next few years, we expect speech recognition to become a normal part of the interaction between physicians and patients. Nuance has already begun to evolve this technology as seen in their recent announcement of their universal and secure cloud-based platform, Dragon Medical One. Also, we predict that our investment will soon become cost neutral and will even begin to offer cost savings for a significant return on investment.

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