This technological and workflow evolution occurred in three phases, which were:
- Transitioning from analog handheld tape recorders to digital recording;
- Implementing speech recognition software to reduce typing where feasible;
- Standardizing the firm’s document creation process with a firm-wide integrated dictation and transcription management software platform.
Although the most recent phase of this evolution occurred only last year, results thus far have been noteworthy. Attorneys and support staff have reported significant time savings on document creation, which allows us to concentrate on expanding our client base, generating additional casework and improving client service through faster results.
Until 2011, our firm’s attorneys utilized handheld analog tape recorders for dictation and transcription. Analog tapes presented numerous workflow inefficiencies and needless administrative expenses. Chief among these included handling and labeling tapes for support staff, replacing obsolete recorders and procuring new microcassettes. In addition, the document creation process with analog tapes lacked transparency, which necessitated that attorneys continually inquire with assistants regarding the transcription process.
The firm updated our recording devices to digital handheld recorders from Philips. Replacing legacy technology can initiate pushback from attorneys, but this risk was mitigated because dictation operation on the digital Philips devices is not demonstrably different from the analog recorders. The most substantial workflow change was that instead of handing a tape to an assistant, attorneys docked the recorders at their laptops and uploaded the files, a process they prefer.
After that effective upgrade, the firm introduced Dragon speech recognition software from Nuance. One of our main goals with this implementation was to reduce the amount of time support staff invested in developing lengthy medical chronologies and independent medical evaluation reports.
After performing due diligence and consulting with our long-standing voice technology vendor and expert, Ken Kloss with DictationProducts?.?com, we determined that speech recognition software had greatly improved in both speed and accuracy in the last several years. Beginning with the medial reports, it was quickly determined that the speech recognition reduced document creation time without sacrificing detail or quality. Subsequently, legal assistants and attorneys expanded its use for numerous other types of documents.
Integrating workflows for flexibility and transparency
With digital dictation and speech recognition implemented, the third — and perhaps most meaningful — document creation workflow advancement phase was to integrate the associated software across the firm. This essential step has helped standardize processes while offering greater practice flexibility for attorneys working out of our multiple offices.
To ensure seamless compatibility with existing hardware and software, including speech recognition, our firm chose the Philips SpeechExec Enterprise dictation management platform. Efficiency was immediately improved since the new platform automatically generates meta-data from the dictation files such as author name, date and time, and dictation file format — a feature unavailable on the previous software.
Transparency was further enhanced by the ability to label files by client or case, another feature lacking in our previous system. Attorneys can now also prioritize uploaded recordings with an intuitive user interface similar to the Microsoft Outlook email software used at the firm. With this improved visibility and integration, legal assistants can view and access each other’s dictation files, allowing colleagues and administrators to distribute workloads more efficiently.
Lastly, the new platform offered Active Directory integration and concurrent licensing, to eliminate the need to purchase individual licenses for attorneys and legal assistants.