Any discussion of healthcare is tied to the seemingly perennial discussion of waiting lists. Patients are waiting longer than they should have to for the treatment they need – and this is nothing new. What’s different, particularly in mental health services and integrated/community care, is the scale and severity of the problem.
NHS England currently publishes waiting time data for talking therapies, young people with an eating disorder, and early intervention in psychosis. Waiting lists across all these areas continue to grow. However, the real scale of the issue is likely to be under-reported. So-called hidden waiting lists between referral and second appointment cause around 12% of mental health cases to wait longer than six months. Demand outpaces the resources available – and adding more resources in terms of people, expertise, and technology will be a long, arduous process.
The answer isn’t in waiting for the resources to come, or leaving already strained emergency services to pick up the slack. There’s a driving, urgent need for efficiency – and doing more with the resources that are at hand and already available.
The importance of efficiency and technology adoption
The reality of mental health means that comprehensive notes are key to good patient outcomes. Cases are often complex and accurate information needs to be shared across mental health professionals (MHPs) and integrated/community care providers. When it comes to detailed reporting, more is always more.
However, this reporting burden is a significant drain on resources – namely, the people who are doing the reporting. Transforming the way mental health services are provided – and the experience of patients – is only possible when these day-to-day processes are faster and more flexible, without compromising on accuracy or completeness.
Technology has a role to play. A more digital approach to reporting helps to keep records safe, while potentially streamlining how MHPs work and increasing their agility.
Similar approaches have already been taken in areas like access to primary care, with mixed success. While patient access can be improved through initiatives like digital phone systems, online messaging and modern triage, the reality rarely meets the potential. An NHSE survey, reported by the Health Service Journal, estimates that just 10-15% of GP practices are using all three access tools.
Even where the most appropriate technology has been identified and recommended by NHS England, there is a significant gap in adoption.
Taking an MHP-centric approach to change
Conventionally, new technology in healthcare (in the form of computer hardware, digitalization, IT systems, cloud-computing, patient data reporting and recording, PACS, clinical software applications, and artificial intelligence) has been driven from the top down. NHS Trusts, private hospitals and healthcare service leaders select and deploy what they hope users will adopt fully. The problem is that the real needs of users – in this case, mental health professionals (MHPs) – are a secondary consideration.
We believe a more effective approach is one where a chosen tech solution mirrors and supports the way users/people want to work, rather than asking them to adapt to the way solutions work. This is only possible when you take into account the diverse needs, preferences and reporting processes of those individuals, providing adequate training and support. Automating certain tasks is another powerful way to support those efficiency gains. And setting clear expectations can help to avoid an overwhelming amount of change. Beyond choosing technology that’s fit for purpose, considering all these factors ensures change is and smooth and successful.
Speech recognition is a technology designed to feel natural and easy to use. By definition, it is more intuitive than any manual input could ever be. As a result, speech recognition can play a vital role in driving the adoption of a vast range of new patient data-focussed technology, including PAS, HIS and EPR systems.
When patient data is manually transcribed from one system to another, or from hurried notes into a more structured digital format, the workload of mental health professionals is increased, not improved. At the same time, these manual processes increase the risk of errors, inaccuracies, and privacy breaches involving mishandled or misplaced files. Efficiency is lost.
Speech is significantly faster than typing and, consequently, the biggest benefits of speech recognition are unlocked when it is integrated into the clinical systems that healthcare professionals already use.
How Augnito empowers MHPs
Augnito is a cloud-hosted, AI-enhanced clinical speech recognition solution that can be used to integrate speech and dictation into existing clinical workflows and applications. By bringing speech to critical technologies like an EPR system, Augnito removes the friction of typing and its time drain on users, helping to improve the adoption of digital workflows.
With a comprehensive set of user options including a desktop, browser and mobile app, Augnito allows for diagnostic reports and patient notes to be dictated from anywhere. Augnito is also easy to deploy and integrate – with providers being able to integrate into their clinical systems in as little as 48 hours and on average around 10-12 weeks.
Finally, Augnito provides a strong return on investment, not just with competitive licensing costs, but the innate ability to increase adoption rates for other clinical systems. In this sense, Augnito doesn’t just deliver value by making intuitive speech recognition available – it actively drives more value from under-used clinical technology that healthcare organisations already have.
In the words of Scribetech’s Director of Global Expansion “We are not adapting the way humans communicate with computers, but adapting the way computers communicate with humans.”
Learn more about Augnito
In just 24 months, Augnito speech recognition technology has helped drive EPR adoption through its growing subscription list of 13,500+ medical professionals across 355 hospitals, NHS Trusts, and 24 reseller, integration and radiology partners in UK, USA, Canada, India, the Middle East and APAC. Request a demo to try Augnito Spectra to see how it can help you.
While technology like clinical speech recognition has the potential to support vital transformation for mental health services, making any lasting change takes careful consideration. Funding is limited, mental health professionals are already stretched, and change can be an intimidating undertaking.
In our last post, we highlighted the significant benefits of natural speech recognition in a mental health setting. From reducing reporting time to freeing up mental health professionals (MHPs) to focus on patients, not note taking, speech-driven tools can positively impact the way people work − and the way patients receive care. But workflow benefits alone don’t determine the success of new technology.
As mental health teams begin their journey of digital transformation, they need to consider a wide range of factors including ease of implementation, adoption, security and, of course, cost.
Ease of implementation
The real cost of new technology is rarely the out-of-the-box price. The NHS Long Term Plan continues to influence technology across healthcare, but many Trusts and mental health professionals find themselves using a mix of modern solutions and older, often unwieldy platforms. As a result, IT infrastructure isn’t always ready to support a new solution, regardless of its potential benefits.
A cloud-hosted, AI-enhanced clinical speech recognition solution like Augnito completely removes this complexity, delivering intuitive speech-to-text with no need for a complex on-site implementation and no infrastructure change. And with purpose-built dictionaries for MHPs vs. a third party add-on, and no need for time-consuming voice-profile training, it’s ready to use at a moment’s notice.
All with flexible per-user licensing, a simple annual fee, and ongoing updates and support included.
Driving adoption of natural speech recognition
If a solution helps a single mental health professional save at least 30 minutes every day, that’s significant. If it’s adopted by an entire team, each experiencing the same kind of impact on their workflow, this could positively impact the patient journey for thousands of people every year. The quality of clinical records can also be improved by increasing use and adoption of the EPR/EMR, and allowing for more detail to be captured – we can speak three times faster than we can type.
An effective plan for adoption starts with ease of use. Flexibility and interoperability are key. Augnito is available wherever mental health professionals need it, whether that’s on Windows, MacOS, smartphones or tablets. Additionally, through Augnito’s comprehensive SDK and API tools, speech-to-text capabilities can also be easily integrated into existing reporting systems, alongside any data captured via Augnito. In this way, it’s easy to make clinical speech recognition part of an existing workflow − as opposed to expecting an already strained workforce to make radical changes to how they capture information and report.
At the same time, early adopters can help drive adoption across the wider team. Augnito is designed to enable MHPs to focus on their patients with more eye contact and more time to listen. Beyond improving the patient journey, speech recognition improves the lives of the people who care for patients every day. These first-hand benefits are vital to maximising adoption.
Embedded security and privacy
As is the case with the entire healthcare system, security and privacy are vital considerations in mental health. This is particularly complex when it comes to cloud-hosted software and the question of how and where data is shared.
Augnito is HIPAA, GDPR, SOC2, ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials Plus compliant, with data encryption deeply embedded into its design process with regular audits and penetration tests to monitor security posture. All UK data is anonymised and processed in the UK, subject to the aforementioned security standards.
In fact, speech recognition has a significant privacy benefit over written documentation and reports. With all information captured digitally, MHPs can reduce the risk of misplaced documents and the manual handling errors that most commonly lead to a data breach.
Making a targeted investment in better workflows
In mental health, investment has to be targeted appropriately and in the right way. In the aftermath of the pandemic and amid a cost-of-living crisis, the scope, scale and nature of mental health complaints are all changing. The one constant is the hard work of MHPs − and it’s here that any investment in change must begin.
Augnito influences patient journeys and outcomes by enabling mental health professionals (MHPs) to work more accurately, flexibly, and effectively. It’s an investment that, while small on a per-user basis, could dramatically improve the outlook for mental health teams and patients − nationwide.
Learn more about Augnito
Augnito is already impacting the patient journey through a growing list of UK radiologists and medical consultants. Request a demo and try Augnito Spectra for 7 days to see how it can help you.
Much like the entire healthcare system, mental health services in the NHS and wider community are facing unprecedented pressure. Rising demand, increased awareness, and stretched budgets make diagnosing and treating mental health conditions a considerable challenge.
It’s an urgent issue that affects everyone. Last year, mental health patients in Accident & Emergency departments waited more than 5.4 million hours. Vulnerable groups like pregnant women aren’t receiving the care they need—not because of a lack of funding, but because of overwhelmed workforces and chronic understaffing. And those people who do receive treatment are significantly less likely to be satisfied with their experience than those with physical conditions.
Technology like AI and speech recognition has the potential to raise standards of mental health care. For example, recent studies show how speech recognition could be used to detect the signs of depression. However, despite recent advances in AI and natural language processing, there’s just no substitute for the distinct, empathetic role of a mental health professional (MHP).
Mental health specialists routinely go above and beyond to capture the often lengthy context around a patient’s condition. It’s a significant drain on already exhausted medical professionals and Allied Health Professionals (AHPs), not just during the day, but out of hours and during valuable home time. It’s here that technology can be most impactful, not replacing professionals, but enabling them to work more flexibly and focus on what matters most: their patients and their personal time.
A flashpoint for mental health care
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted mental health for the worse, with numerous sacrifices made to combat the virus and widespread uncertainty. Society as a whole saw a groundswell in dormant or entirely new mental health conditions. Mental health professionals were faced with even more work—only completed thanks to their commitment/passion for their work, and a great deal of time and effort.
This mental health crisis led to what former Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid described as ‘a decade of change in just two years.’ This quote from a Mental Health Summit speech reflects both the rapid increase in mental health conditions—but also a rapid shift in priorities for the government.
Unfortunately, two years of rapid change can’t undo the damage of decades of underfunding. In January 2023, the UK government pledged £150 million to support urgent mental health care, but health and care providers are already dealing with chronic understaffing. Data from Mind shows that, as far back as 2013, four in ten mental health trusts had staffing levels below benchmarks. More recent reports from the British Medical Association show that the mental health workforce has had little growth in the decade since.
While more investment in mental health provision is welcome, it must be targeted appropriately—and applied consistently. Building highly qualified capacity takes time. Improving the mental health landscape will be a long, arduous process. Those patients suffering with mental health conditions can’t wait for Trusts to find, hire, and grow their resources and human expertise.
Investing in mental health professionals (MHPs)
Investment in patient-facing services will always be vital to transformation, but there’s also a significant opportunity to invest in the capacity that’s already there. This starts with understanding and supporting the overworked mental health teams on the frontlines of the patient experience.
Reported by the CQC, 45% of patients aren’t always given enough time to discuss their needs. This reflects a department under pressure—and that’s pressure that the right technology can alleviate.
The work of mental health professionals is notoriously complex. The role is wide and varied. And professionals need to be multiskilled in providing advice and counselling, behavioural management, and developing strategies for patients to manage their thoughts and emotions. Amid these considerable demands, unwieldy software and slow reporting processes negatively affect quality of care. This is a particularly big challenge in mental health, where collaboration across practitioners is so vital. In an effort to accurately capture the insights a colleague will need, it’s all too easy to overlook the needs of patients themselves.
How Augnito empowers mental health trusts
Developed in close partnership with medical professionals, Augnito delivers integrated, flexible speech recognition—and a more efficient, agile way of working. Mental health teams can switch to using Augnito’s designated mental health vocabulary, capturing all the vital clinical data naturally, descriptively, quickly, and accurately. This frees up time to focus on patients, not admin. More importantly, it reduces reporting that encroaches on home life—often the case at the end of the day when the MHP is finished.
Crucially, Augnito was built for the fast-moving, collaborative nature of healthcare. Patient notes can be captured on any device—Windows, MacOS, smartphone, or tablet—or directly in an existing clinical system. And a focus on security means information can be safely stored, fed into other systems, or securely shared with other teams across healthcare and social care as necessary.
Available in the cloud on a simple subscription basis, Augnito offers:
- Beyond 99% accuracy
- Support for any accent out-of-the-box
- No need for time-consuming voice training
- Faster reporting with average 5% efficiency gains
AI-powered speech recognition like Augnito won’t transform mental health provision itself. But it can transform how MHP’s work every day, enabling them to care for patients with more eye contact, more time to talk and listen, applying more attention to every step along the care journey to improved mental health.
Learn more about Augnito
Augnito is already impacting the patient journey through a growing list of UK reseller and integration partners. Request a demo to try Augnito Spectra for 7 days to see how it can help you.
From GP practices to acute care, hospitals, diagnostics, and imaging, the UK healthcare system is complex for patients and professionals alike. Patient journeys are touched by a vast number of people, all with their own expertise and unique roles to play along the way. In many cases, journeys go beyond the boundaries of the NHS, moving into private healthcare or complementary services like social care.
As a result, there is significant pressure to maintain effective collaboration, eliminate bottlenecks, and streamline administrative processes wherever possible. Day-to-day, healthcare providers encounter three major challenges around the flow of information and, ultimately, the flow of patients from first contact to diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.
Integrated, effective technology has the ability to help overcome these challenges – and AI-powered, highly accurate speech recognition specifically provides a single holistic solution that results in improvements across the board.
#1 The unexpected is to be expected
The nature of healthcare is that things change fast. Few of us would have predicted a devastating pandemic at the end of 2019. Recent leaps forward in AI with the likes of ChatGPT have the potential to redefine how people, including medical professionals, interact with the world around them. The NHS is also undergoing its own transformation, from a strong digital roadmap to evolving models of care like Hospital at Home.
Meanwhile, Virtual Clinics are emerging as a significant way to reduce the Delayed Transfer of Care (DTOC). The NHS has begun to introduce virtual wards, allowing more people to get the care they need, in a home environment, not in hospital, which also helps to alleviate pressure. This now creates significant change in how care is delivered and how teams work with patient data.
The need for adaptability is significant. Taking radiology as an example, a study from February 2023 describes an urgent need to make radiology ‘antifragile’ – to increase resilience and adaptability, so we can thrive in an uncertain world. Some key considerations are building capacity, enabling new ways to collaborate, and prioritising information quickly and effectively.
Integrated speech recognition technology, like Augnito, helps with this challenge by empowering radiologists with more flexibility in the way they work – from transcribing reports on the go, to directly capturing information in clinical systems using speech. Speech also helps connect increasingly complex workflows across the patient journey, whether that’s in a clinical back-end, or, surfaced to other teams in different areas of the organisation. Beyond saving time for an individual healthcare professional, speech recognition transforms the availability and accuracy of clinical information. At the same time, the ability to capture information faster enables a greater degree of analysis, spotlighting the most critical information to anyone across the continuum of care.
#2 Incomplete information impairs decisions
If it wasn’t documented, it didn’t happen. That’s the reality of taking patients through journeys that are complex, often non-linear, and involve the work of multiple individuals, Trusts, private providers, and care partners. In this fast moving environment, information capture and sharing is pivotal.
- If it was just a thought, it wasn’t documented
- If it wasn’t signed off, it wasn’t documented
- It was misplaced, it wasn’t documented
- If it wasn’t saved, it wasn’t documented
- If the detail was lost, it wasn’t documented
- And if it wasn’t documented, it didn’t happen.
Wherever humans are involved in transcribing and capturing information, that information is at risk. Misplaced documents, typing errors, and incorrect data are a considerable challenge at every touchpoint. And, as information is shared across disciplines or among teams, this risk multiplies. With multiple single points of failure, a report that was accurate in the first instance misplaced or lost, affecting dozens of steps along the patient journey, with back tracking and retrieval a difficult, time-consuming task.
Healthcare has an economic and humanistic value. Gaps and failings come with financial and human impact—in some cases, irreversibly. Augnito is designed to close the gaps between medical professionals, multiple healthcare systems, the reporting technology, and their colleagues. Interoperability is key, with speech connecting disparate systems right along the patient journey and creating a single version of the truth. With highly accurate transcription available without the delays or risks of manual handling, only then can everyone make decisions based on the full, up-to-the-minute story – with complete confidence in its accuracy and validity.
#3 Harnessing collective experience and expertise
By definition, Multi-Disciplinary Teams (MDTs) are there to provide a breadth of expertise across distinct areas, each with an important role to play in patient outcomes. But close collaboration across these teams is made more difficult when ways of working and communicating aren’t unified.
A major challenge of any new technology in healthcare is adoption – especially when considering the differing budgets of those across the health and social care system. If a new technology isn’t within reach for under-funded mental health teams or understaffed GP surgeries, its impact will always be limited.
That’s why Augnito doesn’t just provide always-available, accurate speech recognition and transcription. It’s built to be widely accessible, from the low complexity nature of a cloud-hosted solution to a simple subscription model with no need for capital expenditure or complex infrastructure changes.
Holistic improvements to how people work
Technology alone isn’t lifesaving. It’s the unique expertise and talent of people across healthcare that make better patient outcomes possible. Voice-driven AI speech recognition influences outcomes in an integrated, holistic way by focusing on the needs of the people that deliver care every day.
Developed in partnership with medical professionals, Augnito is tailored to the biggest challenges our healthcare system is facing, from rising backlogs to surging DTOC figures and a widespread bed shortage. Delivering incremental improvements to the speed, accuracy and quality of reporting and communication, Augnito brings new efficiency to everyone who touches the patient journey.
Learn more about Augnito
Augnito is already impacting the patient journey through our growing list of UK resellers and technology partners. Request an Augnito Spectra evaluation version to see its benefits first-hand.
While Delayed Transfers of Care (DTOCs), bed shortages, and needless hospital stays negatively affect every patient, the NHS still has a responsibility to pay special attention to the most vulnerable people in our society. But, given the nature of acute hospital beds and potential transfers to social care, the frail elderly and sick children make up a considerable part of the pressure that the NHS faces in handling its current backlog of more than 7 million people waiting for treatment.
In an effort to improve collaboration between disciplinary teams, the NHS has been taking steps to rectify the specific challenge focussed on the vulnerable and . Between 2013 and 2015, 25 integrated care pioneer sites were selected by the NHS to develop and test new ways of joining up health and social care services across England. In 2015, 50 vanguards were chosen to lead the development of new care models, becoming blueprints for the wider NHS moving forward and the inspiration to the rest of the health and care system moving forward.
Through the new care models programme, a complete redesign of whole health and care systems was being considered. That care model was to take into account improving care not simply for older people, but with a focus on frailty vs. age and the differing needs of our ageing population. An ageing population that is living longer and presenting with more complex illnesses that require complicated care. At the same time, similar complexity can be found in a vulnerable group at the other end of the patient age spectrum – the young (children). These factors compound today’s NHS bed shortages, understaffing, burdened workflows, bottlenecks and burned-out clinicians and nurses. They also add to the DTOC problem.
While DTOCs can occur for a wide variety of reasons in the patient journeys of the above two mentioned vulnerable groups, data shows significant challenges in bed capacity, particularly for children. For older patients, awaiting care packages in their own home or nursing home availability are among the most common causes. Meanwhile, Multidisciplinary Teams (MDTs) have a pivotal role to play in enabling seamless journeys, without being limited by inaccurate patient reports, loss of reports, and delays in information sharing (a topic we’ll go into more detail in our next blog post).
In this post, we focus on how DTOCs affect the vulnerable most frequently and how speech recognition technology could help improve this situation to deliver a more consistently available level of care and, ultimately, improve outcomes.
Treating severely ill children
Recent data from Nuffield Trust examined the impact of NHS pressure on children, looking specifically at intensive care beds across the challenging winter period.
According to the report, December 2021 saw just 314 beds per day across the whole of England. While this was marginally higher than availability in previous winters, occupancy was higher too. On average, 89% of these beds were occupied, leaving just 35 beds available to new admissions.
This is by no means the direct consequence of DTOCs and patients failing to be transferred or discharged appropriately. But, it is a sign of a healthcare system in crisis, dealing with peak demand and increased instances of flu, scarlet fever and Strep A with little room to manoeuvre. Bed stocks have been reduced to an extent where any unexpected demand – or delay – could have disastrous consequences.
DTOCs and older patients
For older frail patients, effective care takes a seamless approach between the NHS, community services, and social care providers. It is often these cases where the discharge and transfer process is most complex, requiring collaboration between multiple parties and effectively prioritising what are often multifaceted, intricate needs.
According to a study in Age and Ageing, Volume 50, Issue 4, the average cost to the NHS of DTOCs in older patients was £820 million each year. However, the study highlights the importance of keeping patients central, even where most data gathering is focused on wasted costs.
The reality is that DTOCs aren’t just a cost centre. They create a ripple effect across our entire healthcare system – and out into the lives of patients and our wider communities. Reducing wasted costs is simple: discharge patients faster and more effectively – that’s just one part of the story.
For older patients – and patients of any age – the discharge and transfer process is a key part of their experience. Delays create distress and negatively impact healthcare outcomes. And the knock-on implications of bed shortages, soaring occupancy, and unavailability of care, tend to lower standards across the entire system.
The human cost of DTOCs and bed shortages
At the end of 2022, Landmark Chambers reported on a specific judicial review of an individual Integrated Care Board (ICB). A patient with complex physical needs and autism was stuck on a ward for 8 months when the NHS and social care bodies failed to agree on a discharge plan.
The ICB was ordered to pay the patient’s legal fees as well as their own costs – a legal bill estimated at more than £100,000. The real cost in this, and sadly many similar DTOCs isn’t financial. The real cost is to the patient: a vulnerable individual, already in a challenging environment, needlessly kept waiting for almost a year.
Look behind the scenes, and there’s also a human cost to the overworked, under-pressure MDTs based on the disjointed transfer of care process itself, providing these teams with unwieldy, often outdated reporting platforms and slow, manual processes that make efficient discharge and transfer more difficult than they need to be.
How can technology help?
Augnito’s AI speech recognition empowers all healthcare professionals to save time, increase productivity and, ultimately, reduce costs. It was created to play a part in rethinking models and workflows in healthcare, to actively improve the patient journey by making accurate, agile technology available to entire MDTs across Trusts and across primary care. The challenges the NHS continues to face are sizable, constantly evolving, and not easily solved. We believe a way for professionals to work more flexibly, cope with considerable workloads, and focus their efforts on delivering exceptional patient care will be key steps towards a solution.
Learn more about Augnito
Augnito is already impacting the patient journey through a growing list of UK resellers, distributors and technology partners.
Request an Augnito evaluation version to see its benefits first-hand.