Thursday, September 13, 2007


Thanks to computers, physicians can now use any touch-tone phone to dial into a digital dictation system.
  • Whether on staff at several hospitals, or dictating to a transcription service which handles work for private practices, a physician can usually use the same access code or personal identification number (PIN) on multiple systems.

  • The dictating physician need not worry about having to replace weak batteries in a handheld microcassette recorder or be concerned about damaged tapes making his dictation unintelligible.

  • If a physician wishes to have hands-free dictation, he can even attach a headset to his telephone which allows him greater flexibility while dictating.

  • With most digital dictation systems, the dictating physician has the ability to "cut and paste" patches of dictation the same way a word processor does. He does not have to worry about losing dictation, or erasing words he dictated because the digital dictation system's technology allows him to insert text at the exact point where he wants it to appear.

  • If the physician must interrupt his dictation he can log out of the report, dial in later from any touch-tone telephone, and resume dictating at the exact point where he left off.

  • Because the dictating physician can listen to his dictation at any time, there is no need for him to call a Medical Record Department to check that his dictation was actually "received."

  • If a job requires "STAT" service, it can be coded in such a way that it will rest at the front of an electronic queue of jobs waiting to be transcribed.

  • As soon as the dictating physician finishes a report, his work is available to a transcriptionist.

  • No time is lost logging tapes out of the office.

  • Nor is any time lost waiting for a courier to arrive who can pick up the tapes and transport them to a transcriptionist.

With the computer assigning a unique job number to each piece of dictation, digital dictation systems have a tremendous capacity for tracking documents. Using an author identification number and the patient's medical record number as search parameters, the person who runs the computer can check to see if a doctor has dictated a specific report. Using the patient's medical record number, he can also check to see if a consultation requested from another physician on a specific patient has been dictated.

A digital dictation system should only be unavailable in three situations:

  • A local power failure.

  • A computer crash.

  • The small segment of time when the computer performs electronic housekeeping chores (an activity usually scheduled for the wee hours of the morning).

Next: Dynamic Data Exchange

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