NNUH patient letters go digital

Following a successful trial at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, voice recognition and digital dictation software for patient letters will be rolled out across all departments over the coming months.

By going digital, patients will receive their letters more quickly and admin staff will be freed up to carry out other important tasks. This also brings the Trust in line with national standards on the time taken to send letters out.
The “Dictate IT Swift” software will allow clinicians to dictate either via a free app onto their phone or via a desktop-based system. The system then creates a transcript which can be reviewed within one minute of the dictation being completed. Staff will receive a notification as soon as a transcript is ready to be checked, edited and transferred into the Electronic Template for verification and sending out.

Elaine Wheeler, a member of the Digital Dictation Implementation and Planning Group, said: “We have long recognised that using technology to help streamline our services and drive down inefficiencies is imperative to being able to meet the demands of the hospital and the growing population, we serve.”

NNUH sends out more than half a million letters a year, the majority of which are produced via dictation by clinicians onto voice recorders, then manually typed on site by administrators.

The new software was originally tested across the Medical, Women & Children and Surgical Divisions, with super-users identified in each speciality to support in-house training.

Daniel Holyoake, Clinical Oncology Consultant and Rachel Pannell, Oncology Medical Secretary, were amongst the first to trial the process.

Rachel said: “We’ve been using it for just over a year now – we were one of the first to trial it I think. It saves a lot of time, it might not be word-perfect but most of the time it’s easy to work out what was meant. It also knows loads of medical words and I don’t have to wait until the clinic is finished for Dan to dock his Dictaphone now, so I can get on with my letters while clinic is still in process, if I’m very up to date.”

Daniel added: “I’m happy to say it works well for our team. The key advantage for the clinician is being able to dictate from anywhere and not needing to go back to your desk to upload.”

Ed Prosser-Snelling, NNUH Chief Clinical Information Officer, said: “The ability for doctors to use their own personal devices for clinical care is a step-change in the way we deliver care. Alongside our electronic observations and electronic patient records projects, patients can expect to see staff using their mobile devices in ward areas more and more. Please be reassured they are not on Facebook.

“Digital dictation is the starting point for the adoption of the world of speech-recognition technology across the Trust. There are many ways to expand and innovate on this technology. When we have fully electronic records we can expect to see far less typing and much more talking.”