Medical dictation is easier than ever in the digital era. Improvements in speech recognition software have fueled a growing list of professional software and free medical dictation apps that can help clinicians streamline documentation.
Given the many options, it can be hard to know where to start. This article lists free medical dictation apps and discusses factors to consider when deciding whether to pay for software.
Free medical dictation apps
While free medical dictation software is alluring, it comes with substantial drawbacks.
Free apps are not designed for medical professionals specifically. Therefore, generic dictation apps lack essential features like HIPAA compliance, medical vocabulary, and easy integration with your electronic medical record. You will also find they have clunkier user interfaces and are limited in how and where you can use them.
However, there are options if you insist on using free dictation software. The best free dictation apps integrate directly with a word processing solution like Google Docs or Microsoft Word. Because of the high accuracy of voice recognition, these software are solid options for turning your spoken words into text.
Here are three good options for free dictation software:
1. Google Docs Voice Typing
Most professionals use Google services in some capacity. If you collaborate or write using Google Docs or Google Slides, Google’s Voice Typing tool is a nifty function.
Voice typing is simple and does exactly what it says. Open a Google Doc, click the voice typing microphone tool, and speak the words you want to type. Your dictation appears in the document, and you can edit for errors using your regular keyboard and mouse.
The downside is that voice typing is only available in Google Docs and Slides. You also need to use the Chrome browser to use voice typing. But doctors committed to finding a free medical dictation option could dictate notes into a Google Doc and paste the transcribed text into their EMR.
2. Microsoft Dictate
Like Google’s voice typing, Microsoft Dictate is a free Microsoft Office feature that works well in Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Go to “Home” → “Dictate” to use the feature in Microsoft Word.
Microsoft’s dictation function supports voice recognition and voice commands for most standard operations like typing or editing, moving the cursor to a new line, and adding punctuation.
While Microsoft Dictate’s inclusion of voice commands makes it a little fancier than the Google version, it has similar limitations. Doctors can only use it in Microsoft software, and there’s no medical-specific vocabulary. But it is free if you already have the Microsoft Suite on your personal or work computers.
A final option to consider for free medical dictation is Speechnotes. Speechnotes is a straightforward online voice recognition tool based on the Google speech recognition engine.
A significant benefit of Speechnotes is that the app can be installed as a Chrome extension, allowing you to use it anywhere you navigate within Chrome. That means doctors using a web-based EMR could, theoretically, use Speechnotes to dictate patient notes directly into EMR fields.
Speechnotes is free with an option to donate and upgrade to premium.
Is it worth paying for medical dictation software?
Unfortunately, free medical dictation apps won’t offer the same functionality and quality as subscription apps. As far as we know, there are currently no dictation apps explicitly designed for medicine that offer an entirely free version. Most apps offer free trial periods, but you must subscribe or purchase the software to continue using it.
There are several good reasons to pay for medical dictation software:
- HIPAA Compliance – Apps that handle patient data are subject to HIPAA rules. Dictation apps designed for medicine should offer extra levels of security for PHI that you may not find in a free app. Of course, checking with the software developer before bringing any app into your practice is always a good idea.
- Portability – The most valuable feature of a medical dictation app is that you can easily use it in the EMR. Most doctors will want a medical dictation solution that is easy to use in any software and on any computer.
- Functionality – Developers design medical dictation software with clinicians in mind, which means it often includes features that doctors will find helpful. Examples include built-in medical vocabulary, voice commands for text macros, and a streamlined functionality with provider templates.
- Support – If you have questions or want advice for getting the most out of your software, having good tutorials or a support person at the ready is helpful.
Doctors who dictate clinical notes will find that the time they save on documentation far outweighs the cost of medical dictation software.
The best medical dictation app in 2023
If you’re looking for a truly unique medical dictation solution that works on Mac or PC, consider Mobius Conveyor. Conveyor is the next-generation dictation solution from Mobius MD. For over a decade, Mobius has worked closely with doctors to innovate clinically-tested documentation solutions for the digital era.
Mobius Conveyor’s unique advantage is flexibility. No matter how or where you dictate, Conveyor instantly transcribes your spoken words into any software on any computer. You can even record your dictation as a text memo for later transfer into a patient’s chart.
Here are a few of the top reasons doctors choose Conveyor over other medical dictation apps:
- Works on your Mac
- Supports all EMRs
- No IT setup required
- Unlimited computers
- Secure memos
Learn more about how Mobius Conveyor compares with competitors, or download Conveyor from the app store to start a free trial and see if this is the medical dictation solution you’ve been looking for.