Sunday, June 1, 2008

Voice Recognition Used in Iraq

According to MC4 Public Affairs, Lt. Colonel, MD, John Mansfield, Urologist at the Air Force Theater Hospital at Balad Air Base in Iraq, voice recognition technology is successfully being used in clinics and operating rooms. The technology is being used to record patient care and capture surgical procedures electronically by using DOD’s Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4) System via a laptop.

Dr. Mansfield has been the only urologist on staff in Balad since January and sees about 150 patients per month with both outpatient and inpatient visits involving mostly trauma and kidney stone ailments. Like most doctors in the combat zone, he doesn’t have time to stop and type everything he does, so he has to improvise.

By synching the newly deployed voice recognition software known as Dragon Naturally Speaking Medical Version 9.5 with his MC4 system, the doctor is able to cut his documentation time in half by talking at about 120 words per minute. The system is able to handle up to 140 words per minute.

Not only is Dr. Mansfield the first to use the software with MC4, he is also the first doctor to implement a voice recognition roaming medical network in a medical treatment facility on the battlefield.

To use the system, users of the software must customize the speech engine to their voice and style of speech. This is called creating a speech file. With the new network or roaming capability that MC4 has set up, Dr. Mansfield’s speech file is maintained on a server and can be accessed from any of his laptops if the voice recognition software is loaded on it. This technology allows physicians to roam from place to place while dictating at any of the current 10 MC4 laptops.

Major Michael Matchette, a radiologist at the hospital, finds that the voice recognition set up with the MC4 system really helps radiologists because they dictate more than any other specialty in the hospital. The software saves time especially when there are mass casualties.

According to Major Matchette, he can get a more complete report in the computer and do it in less than half of the time. By using voice recognition technology, doctors can have full trauma scan reports in the computer, often by the time that the patient goes to the operating room.

In five weeks, Dr. Mansfield and the MC4 personnel have trained 16 surgeons from various disciplines on the system which includes surgeons, ear, nose, and throat specialists to neurosurgeons. Dr. Mansfield’s experiences have motivated him and the MC4 technical support staff to extend their training outreach efforts and they have plans for more voice recognition training sessions Reviews have been mixed but the doctor hopes that after the system has proven to be successful, everyone will come on