Tayla Ansell explains what businesses should look for when choosing a digital dictation workflow solution
The process of recording audio, typing it up and making sure it ends up in the right place can be unnecessarily laborious and time consuming. Dictation workflow software makes the process easier, linking authors and transcriptionists so that recordings and written documents are shared instantly with the right person for faster turnaround times.
A survey by Nuance Communications found that 50% or more of a doctor’s time is spent on clinical documentation, with almost an hour a day spent searching for information. Dictation workflow software can make documentation processes easier and more efficient.
And it’s not just doctors who benefit. Dictation workflow software is used by a variety of businesses, including law firms, surveyors, accountancy firms, medical practices, non-profit organisations, local councils and more. In the words of James Morriss, head of sales and marketing at Lexacom, “the software is useful to anyone who needs to create documents, in a consistently efficient way”.
But why can’t files just be emailed? For Morriss, it’s all about security and traceability. “Whilst it is possible to email files between users, many of the key benefits are simply lost. Specifically, it will be difficult to ensure security of the files, as there is nothing to prevent a user from incorrectly emailing a file or forwarding a file elsewhere,” he said.
Maxine Park, co-founder of transcription services provider DictateNow, adds that specialist software also provides an effective way to share work between different typists, secretarial pools and outsource providers. DictateNow has a team of secretaries available to type up customers’ sound files, effectively acting as a remote extension of a firm’s in-house team.
Georgina Pavelin, marketing manager at Olympus, also cites security and collaboration as key benefits, adding that dictation workflow software gives improved visibility of workload, for example by enabling a group of typists to view live updates on the progress of dictation jobs.
The market for dictation workflow software continues to grow as more firms make the switch from analogue tapes to digital voice files, driven in part, says Morriss, by the greater affordability of digital solutions.
“Many users of tape-based dictation have been reluctant to change to a digital format because of the initial costs involved. As tape players and associated consumables have risen in price significantly over the last few years, the gap between maintaining an old system and replacing it with a digital system has continued to reduce,” he said.
“We are seeing a tipping point, with many users of analogue systems now compelled to make the change. In addition to this, many early adopters of digital technology are reviewing their needs and upgrading to systems that support more advanced features, such as smartphone support and speech recognition.”
Park points out that cloud solutions can help minimise the level of investment needed. She said: “Being able to have a hosted system – SaaS – means there is no need for expensive servers. Also, advances in technology have seen improvements to the quality of sound files and ease of use. Dedicated apps are available for use on mobile devices, which means people can dictate on the go, anywhere, at any time, without the need for expensive dictation devices.”
Pavelin adds that the broader need to make better use of stretched resources by increasing efficiency and productivity is also expanding the market for dictation workflow software that can reduce the time it takes to create documents and free up staff to spend more time on other tasks.
With so many solutions to choose from, where should one start? For Morriss, simplicity is the key: “It is often easy to forget the reason for dictating documents in the first place, which is to reduce the burden on the professional. There are many systems out there that are complex and difficult to use. People should consider a solution that is clear, simple and intuitive for the professional (the most expensive part of the process), whilst maintaining a high degree of customisation and flexibility,” he said.
Pavelin highlights the importance of trying out a solution first: “Trials are beneficial as they can highlight any potential issues, such as tech requirements and capabilities. If anyone would like to discuss dictation workflow, Olympus offers demonstrations and information to help choose the right solution.”
For businesses interested in outsourcing the transcription of their sound files, Park highlights security as a key consideration. She said: “It is always best to choose a dictation company which is compliant with the ICO. The company should have UK-based servers with outsource provision based in the UK and should be aware of the changes being imposed by the GDPR that come into effect in 2018 with regard to data processing.”