Speech recognition helps Fallon Clinic realize transcription savings from EMR

Fallon Clinic in Worcester, Mass., has had EMRs in one form or another since 1992. Most recently, the multispecialty group practice replaced its home-grown system with an Epic Systems EMR, a project completed in late 2007.

Throughout the five-year Epic implementation, clinic leadership wondered how the EMR would produce a return on investment.

"Most of the savings were coming from two places," Medical Director for Informatics Dr. Larry Garber explains in a podcast with the Health Business Blog. "One is the reduction of medical records staff, since we wouldn't have to be shuffling paper throughout Central Massachusetts anymore. The other savings that we were looking for was a reduction in the transcription cost. We were spending several million dollars a year with doctors dictating into recorders and having those sent overseas electronically to be typed at 10 cents a line, so we budgeted a certain amount of savings," Garber says.

Fallon was hoping to cut the number of transcribed lines by 75 percent when the Epic implementation began in 2003. By 2008, transcription was down just 35 percent.

For years, Fallon had been interested in speech-recognition technology to aid in physician documentation, but the quality of Dragon Naturally Speaking wasn't quite up to the clinic's standards in 2005. A newer version was, however, and Fallon installed the software in 2008 for a trial run among nine physicians and one PA. "What we found, which I guess was a little surprise, was that the time it took for the notes to be finalized in our electronic health record dropped from an average of almost four days prior to Dragon down to 46 minutes after using Dragon," Garber says.

To learn more:
- read this transcript of the interview on the Health Business Blog

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