Key features to consider when selecting a digital dictation system

Digital dictation systems can deliver a range of important benefits both in terms of productivity and flexibility. However, selecting the right solution for your organisation’s needs can be a challenge, so we’ve listed ten of the key considerations to help in your decision-making.

Cloud or on-premises?

The first, and probably the most crucial decision to be made, is the overall approach you will take to deliver the digital dictation solution – whether it will be cloud-based or on-premises (using a local server within your organisation).There are pros and cons to both approaches, but increasingly the cloud-based approach is the preferred option due to the cost and maintenance benefits it can offer, along with the way in which it can better support remote and virtual working.

Mobile apps

Linked with ease of use for mobile workers is the ability to access dictation software on the move, using a mobile app to securely dictate, edit and approve documents. If this feature is likely to be of importance, then you should ensure that any prospective dictation solution offers mobile app capabilities, ideally supporting both Apple and Android users.

Recorder/microphone

Voice recording is obviously a key element of digital dictation. The solution may well offer alternatives to meet your specific needs, including a microphone option for direct recording, a smartphone option for recording on the go, or the ability to upload recordings from a handheld recorder or mobile phone. Your requirements will dictate the level of sound quality needed (for example, if authors are likely to be using the system in noisy environments, then a high-quality microphone may be required).

Automatic tracking/routing

The solution should provide you with the ability to manage the overall document production process. This might include the ability to see a clear digital audit trail of all dictations and transcriptions, whilst also allowing for your dictations to be automatically forwarded to a specific typist if that is the way you normally work.

Assigning priorities

Some dictations will inevitably be more critical than others, so it may be helpful (or indeed essential) to be able to use a priority setting that can flag urgent recordings and move them up in the transcription queue, and to specify the date when a particular package of work needs to be completed.

Organising and indexing dictations

By their nature digital dictation systems produce digital files containing a wide variety of information. Think about whether it could be important for your business to not only organise and store these dictations, but also have the ability to index them in some form so that you can access them quickly and easily if required.

Voice recognition capabilities

Speech to text processing is gaining in popularity for transcription purposes, so you need to consider the role that this feature might play within your organisation. If it is required, then you should establish whether voice recognition is part of the overall solution offering or whether it is available as a bolt-on app. You should also identify the level of accuracy it offers (some can now achieve up to 95%), and whether it can provide customised solutions for specific professionals such as medical practitioners, lawyers, accountants and engineers where technical terminology is in common use.

Integration

Integration is another key consideration since a digital dictation solution may well not deliver its full benefits if it is simply working in isolation. For example, you might require it to link with a workflow solution to streamline the overall document production process. And, of course, there will be industry-specific applications, such as the need to integrate dictation outputs with electronic health record (EHR) systems in the medical world. It can be helpful to establish what integrations are already in place for other software applications that are important to you.

Security/encryption

In today’s business world cyberattacks and hacking are rife, so it is essential that your digital dictation solution can ensure the security of your files, particularly as they may contain confidential or personal information. You should check whether the solution uses industry standard encryption techniques to protect the files when they are stored or in transit. Multifactor authentication might also be used to add another layer of security.

Back-up/data recovery

Finally, it is important to ensure that your important voice files are not lost as a result of a system outage or attack. This means that the solution should provide you with the ability to create back-up copies of all dictations so that they can be recovered and restored in the event of any problem. The fact that most cloud solutions will create automatic back-ups is a particular benefit of this approach.

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