M*Modal Fluency Cloud Application Converts Speech to Text

As published by eWeek

M*Modal, a developer of clinical documentation software, has introduced Fluency, a group of applications that enable doctors to dictate narratives about patients’ conditions and populate electronic health records (EHRs) with this information.

The company unveiled the Fluency speech-to-text platform on May 9. One of the company’s goals in developing Fluency is to tell the “complete patient story,” according to Vern Davenport, chairman and CEO of M*Modal.

“We see the doctor’s narrative as a rich source of unstructured clinical data that can now be easily created, explored and analyzed to enhance the quality of care in the most efficient and meaningful ways, while improving internal processes, such as reimbursement,” Davenport said in a statement.

Many clinical documentation systems handle tasks such as billing but don’t accurately capture the patient story, according to Mike Raymer, senior vice president of solutions management for M*Modal.

Fluency is built on M*Modal’s cloud-based Speech Understanding platform, which analyzes the spoken word and converts it into text.

When physicians dictate information about patient conditions, it’s converted to text that they can edit in a patient record. Doctors click on a field in an EHR—say a phrase such as “patient is a smoker”—and then the software populates the field in the EHR, said Raymer.

With Fluency’s speech understanding capabilities, the software is able to understand the intent of a doctor’s speech as well as accents, dialects and cadence, M*Modal reported.

“Any edits that they make will improve the recognition for that particular physician—particularly if they have a unique way of saying something or if they have an heavy accent,” said Raymer.

When doctors modify the transcription, the cloud can associate a waveform or voice with a pattern of text, and the transcription will then become more accurate, he explained.

It can also understand a doctor’s subspecialty, M*Modal reported.

Despite the complexities introduced into doctors’ workflows, such as using EHRs and filling out complex forms online, the speech-to-text capabilities of Fluency allow doctors to ease the handoff of patients from one doctor to another, said Raymer.

M*Modal’s Fluency and Speech Understanding platforms are available on a PC or in limited use by partners on an Apple iOS app, but M*Modal has yet to release it to iTunes. EHR vendor AllScripts currently incorporates Speech Understanding on the iPhone and iPad. DrChrono, which offers an EHR app for the iPad, announced in July 2011 that it had integrated M*Modal’s Speech Understanding cloud platform into its software.

Due to greater interest in iOS than Android in health care, M*Modal has no current plans to release an Android app.

The new platform consists of four products: Fluency Direct, Transcription, Imaging and Coding.

Fluency Direct allows doctors to speak directly into EHRs and populate the records without using a transcription service.

Fluency Transcription is a document management and workflow application that combines voice with editing and electronic signature tools. Transcription can also distribute documents and provides doctors with reporting analytics on medical decisions. It also allows them to improve their workflows, according to the company.

Meanwhile, Fluency for Imaging allows physicians to manage dictation and workflow for radiologists, said Raymer. Users can access real-time prompts, work lists and analytics using the company’s Speech Understand cloud platform.

Fluency for Coding uses computer-assisted coding to help doctors transition to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-10 medical claim codes. (The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has pushed back the deadline for implementing ICD-10 to 2014.)

Another product, Fluency for Practices, allows doctors to upload files from multiple devices for transcription.

Fluency is M*Modal’s first product launch since the company changed its name from MedQuist Holdings on Jan. 24.

In addition, Fluency incorporates a language for labs called Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC), a code system for identifying lab observations. LOINC translates the spoken language into a format that conforms with medical vocabulary, said Raymer.