Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter

    16 September 2006

    Digital Dictation and Voice Recognition: Not ready for prime time?

    Our digital dictation system consists of a Philips Speech Mike linked in to our RIS (TC-RAD, McKesson). For plain film reporting, after using it for a year or two, I have switched back to using cassette tapes, and guess what? I estimate that my productivity is up 20%, and fatigue levels reduced by 50%. Other colleagues have reported similar experiences.

    The problem with our digital dictation system is that it involves numerous mouse clicks and aiming a cursor several times during the dictation process, and this increases the total amount of work very substantially if the report is very brief (e.g. "Normal appearances"). Also, transcription of reports by secretaries from digital dictation involves more steps and is inherently less efficient than transcription from tape.

    There are advantages to digital dictation, and it's OK for longer reports like CT and MRI reports. It allows secretaries to retrieve and locate dictated reports more easily. However, at least in our version, there are very serious inadequacies.

    As for voice recognition (VR), I tried that too, for several months, and put enormous effort into training the system, which was created by bolting the Dragon dictation system (which seems to have nothing but outstanding reviews in PC magazines) onto our digital dictation system. I came to the conclusion that I would have been better served by doing a touch typing course.

    Here's an online article that describes in great detail the experiences of many users with radiological voice recognition systems. I concur with the opinions expressed.
    Voice, I mean Speech Recognition, Buggy Whips, and OODA Loops

    If VR makes sense on an accountant's spreadsheet in terms of staffing levels and turnaround times, this may be because the spreadsheet has not recorded all of the variables. I am now extremely sceptical about the practicalities and costs of these systems in their current form.

    From personal experience I am wary of verbal or published recommendations for VR systems and other software products, especially those designed for medical use, where standards and expectations are often extremely low. Someone who has spent vast sums of money on a poor quality product may be reluctant to admit (even to himself, let alone to the outside world) that it was all a big mistake.

    13 September 2006

    Drinking barium to protect the fetus during CT pulmonary angiography

    This phantom study suggests that ingestion of barium will shield the fetus of a woman undergoing CT pulmonary angiography.
    It's cheap, harmless and seems logical, so why not?

    Yousefzadeh DK, Ward MB, Reft C.
    Internal barium shielding to minimize fetal irradiation in spiral chest CT: a phantom simulation experiment.
    Radiology. 2006 Jun;239(3):751-8.