In regard to interesting technology, on Monday of this week, Nuance Communications, Inc. (http://shop.nuance.com/store/nuanceus/DisplayHomePage?utm_medium=ps&utm_source=Bing&utm_campaign=M_-_US_-_NAM_-_Nuance_-_PS_-_General&utm_term=nuance&cvokeywordid=15180&resid=UYGLNQoBAlkAAD1hJI8AAAA-&rests=1367444276953) introduced the latest version of its Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software known as OmniPage Ultimate.
I have been a loyal user of Nuance products for many years in support of my own business operations, including the Dragon speech recognition applications, as well as the OmniPage OCR, PDF Converter, and PaperPort applications for document management. As a loyal user, Nuance has occasionally included me in several “beta” evaluations of their software, including recently OmniPage Ultimate. Having used this application over the past several weeks, there are several new features that I believe have interesting consequences for healthcare.
Included in this latest iteration of OmniPage Ultimate are:
- A 25% improvement in recognition accuracy from digital camera images
- Inclusion of a layout application known as “LaunchPad” that makes document conversion simple, and has a simplistic appearance similar to native Windows 8 applications
- A “DocuDirect™” application for workgroup applications, and for creating searchable PDF documents
- An interesting blend of mobile applications that enable document conversion to speech, and support of the ePub format for easy document access on mobile devices
Converting operations from paper-based to paperless is an ongoing issue for healthcare. The ability to easily scan and convert paper forms to electronic fillable forms may be a useful application, particularly for smaller and office-based facilities that do not have a full-scale application.
Similarly, I believe the DocuDirect™ application could make it easy to convert diagnostic reports to alternative formats in batch, thereby improving staff efficiency. One such application might be to convert transcribed reports to MP3 files and automatically send to physician mobile devices. That way physicians could listen to the playback of diagnostic reports during commute times. Similarly, the ePub support might mean that reports could be “published” and pushed to mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones to make report accessibility easier. I have experimented with both and find it highly useful to have document information available in alternative formats (See my website - www.hisconsultant.com for a link to an MP3 example of a radiology report).
Another interesting feature could make use of the searchable PDF capability, in conjunction with Nuance’s PaperPort application to provide a readily searchable database of reports. This would enable context-sensitive searches for specific disease processes or anatomy, which may not be possible within a facility’s dictation/transcription system.
For small operations doing research, the conversion and ePub capabilities might be a useful mechanism for distributing medical research reports.
Also included in Nuance’s applications is something called the “Nuance Cloud Connector.” By means of this application, users can easily upload and download content to a supported cloud application such as DropBox or Microsoft Live SkyDrive. Similarly, OmniPage seamlessly integrates to an email client so that documents can be directly converted into an email message. Aside from potential patient confidentiality concerns, the cloud and email delivery options represent a convenient way to manage content acquisition and access. For example, if one were attending a lecture or reviewing a research board, a digital image could be captured, sent to the cloud, and then downloaded for conversion and review.
I believe I’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to potential healthcare applications. Nuance has assembled a great collection of document and speech applications that in concert offer a variety of applications that could improve clinical information quality and efficiency. Nuance has adapted its speech recognition engine technology to healthcare by creating a user application shell specific to healthcare (PowerScribe 360). It will be interesting to see if they evolve a similar strategy for document management – particularly now that speech technology has been incorporated into OmniPage Ultimate.