Secretaries drive for digital dictation helps improve standards at General Practice

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The medical professionals and patients of the Hadleigh and Boxford Group practice in Ipswich are reaping the benefits of a new digital dictation system from TalkingPoint, following the secretaries’ request to implement the technology to help improve efficiency and drive up standards.

The medical professionals and patients of the Hadleigh and Boxford Group practice in Ipswich are reaping the benefits of a new digital dictation system from TalkingPoint, following the secretaries’ request to implement the technology to help improve efficiency and drive up standards.

The general practice group, which comprises of two sites and includes the purpose built health centre at Hadleigh and fully equipped branch service at Boxford, offers a complete service of family medicine to 14,000 patients and is supported by 10 GPs and 4 secretaries. Traditionally, the group had been using a tape-based dictation system. However, the secretaries were becoming increasingly frustrated by the quality of the recordings, the natural delays incurred by the analogue process and the lack of efficiency when dealing with priority cases.

As a result, the secretaries put a business case forward to implement digital dictation, and due to the high quality, secure, efficient, easy to use and low cost nature of the system, TalkingPoint's Digital Dictation solution was installed across both sites.

Commenting on the immediate benefits, Karen Knights, Medical Secretary at Hadleigh Medical Centre said: "The difference in terms of speed in dealing with individual referrals and the clarity of the recordings are palpable. Previously, we would have had to physically collect the latest tapes from a pigeonhole and spend time changing and rewinding the tapes to transcribe the details. Finding an urgent letter amongst a tape full of routine dictations would be particularly time consuming and frustratingly ineffective. On top of this we would find inaudible recordings, where is wouldn't be out of place for all four secretaries to listen to the recording, with the volume up high, to try to work out what had been said".

On average 30-40 letters a day need to be produced by each of the Hadleigh and Boxford Group secretaries. But where previously tapes would incur inherent delays, such as a tape full of cases not reaching the secretary resource until the following day and creating an immediate backlog, Digital dictation offered the service instant immediacy. Karen Knights adds, "Now with digital dictation, the recordings come through immediately and are automatically prioritised in our inbox typing queue by date and level of urgency. This way we can instantaneously prioritise the days work load, individually and collectively. The dictations are processed accordingly and as soon as possible. As a result, we have moved from being, on average, two to three days behind with our letter production to clearing all the previous days recordings before we leave for home in the evening. A significant uplift in turnaround".

Furthermore, TalkingPoint's digital dictation recordings are consistently clear, minimising the GPs interruptions and eradicating the unproductive "what did they say" secretarial discussion groups that frustrated the team previously.

The implementation of the digital dictation system has impressed the GPs at the practice, specifically with its ability to ease problems dealing with a split site. Dr Cope, GP at Hadleigh and Boxford Group Practice, said "Having the digital dictation system at both sites has helped enormously, quite simply because we the GP don't have to remember to take or bring back the tapes when we visit the Boxford site. With Hadleigh being the main administrative centre, if you were working out of Boxford you would always need enough tapes to record a day's work and then remember to bring them back on your return. Human error would often creep in and as a result cause delays in processing referrals. Or as in my case, stopped me doing my dictation at Boxford, as I would never remember to take my tapes. This would create more hours of work on my return to the main site. Now I do my referrals as I go along, whichever site I am working at, offering good flexibility".

Commenting further on the improvements, Dr Cope said "Due to the immediacy of digital dictation and TalkingPoint's priority settings the turnaround of referral letters is certainly faster. Urgent letters always come back for signing before the end of surgery and very often, I will have all my non-urgent, routine letters back to sign as well. Furthermore, copies are automatically saved to both the GPs and secretaries machines offering a failsafe archiving system and high level of security for clinical dictation".

Dr Cope was also impressed with the ease of adoption and integration of the digital dictation system saying: "All the GPs and secretaries were at very different IT levels but despite this, everyone found the system easy to use and integrate into their working practices. I would say that all of us using TalkingPoint have been very positive about its introduction and it offers us all a great improvement to the way we were working".

Completely tape-free, TalkingPoint Digital Dictation delivers improved efficiency and economy from day one. GPs simply pick up their hand held SmartMike, press 'new letter' and dictate straight into their PCs. Once finished, the recording appears in the secretaries’ inbox ready to type. When a secretary has finished typing, the recording moves to the secretaries outbox ready to send. Simply, it removes the hassle, insecurity and expense of the traditional tape-based system.

For further information about the TalkingPoint range of speech solutions, visit or email sales(at)talkingpoint(dot)uk(dot)com.

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Philippa Bevan

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