Some military doctors let the software do the typing

Military medical providers will soon have the latest iteration of a leading voice-recognition software package available to them. However, the extent of the technology’s availability varies by geography and among individual clinicians.

Nuance Communications released its new Dragon Medical 10 software yesterday. A company statement said the new product recognizes dictation twice as fast as the earlier version and improves accuracy by more than 20 percent.

Some providers already use Dragon software with AHLTA, the Defense Department’s electronic medical records system.

“It is easier to dictate than to type notes,” said Maj. Craig Rohan, a pediatrician stationed at Los Angeles Air Force Base. “That means you take less time creating documentation and more time seeing patients.”

A study at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, Rohan’s former duty station, found that using Dragon software combined with other procedural changes improved clinical efficiency by 30 percent.

All the medical clinics in the Air Force Space Command, including Peterson and Los Angeles, have Dragon software. However, the extent of its use varies from one physician to the next, Rohan said.

In Iraq, military medical providers have access to voice-recognition software on a case-by-case basis, a spokesperson for Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4) said.

“I chose Dragon several years ago after testing it against two other [voice-recognition] packages,” said Lt. Col. John Mansfield, chief of urology at Balad Air Base in Iraq. “I can create, edit and sign the notes within three to five minutes. Deploying it with the individual MC4 laptops was quite easy.”

Mansfield was given access to Dragon because he was an experienced user, the MC4 spokesperson said, but the software is not included in AHLTA’s baseline technology.

“Right now, Dragon does not have any real competition,” Mansfield said, “and it is the world’s most popular medical [voice-recognition] software.”

About the Author

Peter Buxbaum is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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