Pros and Cons of Written Notes vs Dictation in Healthcare

Jamie Frew
Jamie Frew
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Understanding the concepts of written notes and medical dictation in healthcare

Maintaining clinical notes and documentation is an essential aspect of working as a healthcare practitioner, and there are a few different ways that this process can be carried out. Keeping handwritten notes is the most traditional method, and whilst it can be effective, it is generally more time-consuming and error-prone. The most recently adopted method of maintaining medical notes is by using dictation software. This software allows the practitioner to speak into their computer or mobile device, which will consequently translate what they are saying into readable text. Using medical dictation over written notes is the most effective way to save time, improve productivity and focus on delivering quality healthcare to patients in need.

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Typing vs dictating notes: which is better?

Before we dive into analyzing the pros and cons of typing versus dictating notes, we should preface that regardless of what conclusion we come to, you will have your preferences. That being said, it is always important to critically analyze your working methods to identify whether improvements can, and should, be made.

Since the mass movement to implement EHR (electronic health record) systems into healthcare practices, the majority of practitioners typed their notes. Now, with the introduction of voice dictation software, many providers can’t decide which option to go with. To help you make the right choice, we have broken down the various advantages and disadvantages associated with each method:

Efficiency: This is generally one of the biggest points of discussion. Completing paperwork and clinical documentation takes up a significant amount of time for practitioners and is one of the main barriers preventing the treatment of more patients. As such, healthcare practices are constantly looking for the most time-efficient method of completing paperwork. Although there are a few factors that go into it, dictation is generally a faster method than typing. Typing requires a certain level of skill, whereas there is no prerequisite for speaking on a phone. A study conducted by Stanford researchers found that dictation is almost three times faster than typing.

Accuracy: You may be wondering whether the speed with which dictation occurs is correlated with a higher rate of errors. Fortunately, this is not the case, and research indicates that dictated notes are just as accurate as carefully typed notes. In saying that, sending dictations to third-party transcription services has been shown to result in a higher number of errors than using front-end voice-to-text dictation software. This latter type of dictation allows physicians to view their transcription as it is being produced and fix any mistakes immediately.

Efficiency and accuracy are the two most significant factors that should be considered when deciding whether to type or dictate your clinical notes. Careful analysis of both of these methods has revealed that dictation is not only the more efficient method but is also associated with fewer errors and doesn’t require a pre-existing skill. We understand that you may have your own preferences, but the vast advantages associated with using medical dictation software indicate that it is the preferable option. Not only does it give you just as much control as typing, but it will streamline the paperwork process and save you up a significant amount of time that can instead be spent doing what you do best: seeing and treating patients.

Tips to get the most out of dictations

Although medical dictation software is highly intuitive and you may find it comes easily to you, moving to a new system can be fairly daunting. To help ensure you are using the software to its full potential, we have compiled a brief list of strategies that will enable you to create the best notes possible:

  1. Enunciate: When using dictation software, you need to speak clearly. Although the software is highly advanced, it is still a computer and won’t be able to understand mumbled or unclear language. 
  2. Correct punctuation: You will need to dictate the punctuation within your transcription. This includes letting the software know where there is a full stop, comma, question mark, etc.
  3. Use sentences: The software has been designed to understand sentences and phrases over words. Separating all of your sentences into individual words can confuse the transcript, especially when using words like ‘to’, ‘too’, and ‘two’. The algorithm is sophisticated and understands context clues, so it is more efficient if you speak in sentences.

Adopt Carepatron's medical dictation software

Once you have decided to implement medical dictation software into your practice, it is time to decide which platform to use. In recent years, there has been a surge in the number of companies developing dictation software so we understand this can be a daunting decision - however, this is an area we are well versed in! Carepatron offers a highly sophisticated, medical dictation service that is guaranteed to save your practice significant amounts of time. The software is integrated into a high-performing EHR, allowing you to store all of your notes in a centralized database. Carepatron is also HIPAA-compliant and takes patient privacy seriously, meaning you can be confident that the information stored in the system is highly secure.

The technology of voice recognition today

There are various reasons behind why the development of voice dictation software is so useful in a medical context. One of the biggest factors is the fact that practitioners who are above a certain age bracket didn’t grow up with technology and are unfamiliar with typing in general, let alone typing quickly. Dictation eliminates the need for them to learn a new skill, and they can focus on producing good notes without the complication of typing. Further, since the development of dictation software, it is becoming increasingly sophisticated, yet remains easy to use. Practitioners can direct the software, which now listens to voice commands, allowing them to complete their paperwork without lifting a single finger. Further, dictation is now mobile-friendly, allowing practitioners to complete their paperwork remotely or on the go. Lastly, although technology is increasingly advancing, it isn’t getting more expensive. This means that healthcare practices can utilize the most recent forms of dictation software without having to pay excessive costs. The time and money-related advantages of implementing medical dictation software should not be overlooked, and if you are wanting to stay competitive in the healthcare industry, it is time to make the move.

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