Why doctors should stop typing

As healthcare has gone digital, providers are spending more time than ever on clinical documentation. A third of US doctors now spend over 20 hours a week on paperwork, including dozens of hours typing and roughly 4,000 clicks a day.

The result of this documentation burden is less time with patients, professional dissatisfaction, and burnout. In addition to physicians actually leaving medicine, burnout has obvious consequences for the quality of patient care. Doctors surveyed about what contributes to burnout cite charting, paperwork, long hours, and electronic health records.

Doctors are typing more than ever

One of many challenges that doctors face in the modern healthcare environment is that they aren’t very good typists. EHRs and computerized physician order entry have led to – you guessed it – lots of time on the computer. Over weeks, months, and years, slow typing amounts to days of avoidable documentation time.

The solution isn’t to type faster, and it’s impractical for many physicians to hire a transcriptionist. Instead, many doctors are embracing mobile medical dictation using the latest voice recognition software.

Typing speeds compared

A typical business typing speed is around 40 words per minute (WMP). Professional career typists can exceed 100 WPM, and the world record is a striking 216 WPM (on an ergonomically designed Dvorak keyboard).

Unfortunately, most doctors were trained long before healthcare went digital, and even those who grew up typing are not very fast. One 2015 study of medical residents in New York found that median typing speed was 30 WPM.

By contrast, medical dictation software instantly transcribes speech at about 150 WPM. Consider the potential time saved if you were to switch from typing to dictation.

Doing the math

Let’s say you type 30 WPM and that you spend roughly half or your weekly 20 hours in the EHR typing (versus clicking or navigating).

Using speech recognition software you could dictate directly into the EHR at 100 WPM – a conservative estimate – cutting typing time from 10 to 3 hours weekly. Reducing documentation time by 7 hours per week would save 365 hours per year, or roughly 36 fewer 10-hour workdays.

It goes without saying that even if you saved a fraction of these 36 workdays, it would be well worth the time and costs of initially updating your documentation workflow.

The alternative to typing

Doctors considering transcription often consider three options: hiring an in-house transcriptionist, outsourcing to a medical transcription service, and using voice-recognition software for instant medical dictation.

Voice recognition software has improved immensely in recent years, making automated dictation at the point of care more accurate, convenient, and affordable than ever. The latest software leverages deep learning and neural net technology to adapt to your voice patterns. Medical grade dictation software recognizes medical terminology out of the box, so your words appear instantly and accurately in the EHR as you speak.

Why not go mobile?

Doctors already use their smartphones for everyday tasks, and many have embraced mobile devices as a valuable clinical tool. Mobile dictation apps are one of the most convenient and distraction-free ways to dictate directly into the patient’s chart.

It’s time to stop typing. Explore how the world’s most reliable speech-to-text medical dictation software could save you hours a week.

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