Speech Recognition for Medical Dictation: Overview in Quebec and Systematic Review

J Med Syst. 2018 Apr 3;42(5):89. doi: 10.1007/s10916-018-0947-0.


Speech recognition is increasingly used in medical reporting. The aim of this article is to identify in the literature the strengths and weaknesses of this technology, as well as barriers to and facilitators of its implementation. A systematic review of systematic reviews was performed using PubMed, Scopus, the Cochrane Library and the Center for Reviews and Dissemination through August 2017. The gray literature has also been consulted. The quality of systematic reviews has been assessed with the AMSTAR checklist. The main inclusion criterion was use of speech recognition for medical reporting (front-end or back-end). A survey has also been conducted in Quebec, Canada, to identify the dissemination of this technology in this province, as well as the factors leading to the success or failure of its implementation. Five systematic reviews were identified. These reviews indicated a high level of heterogeneity across studies. The quality of the studies reported was generally poor. Speech recognition is not as accurate as human transcription, but it can dramatically reduce turnaround times for reporting. In front-end use, medical doctors need to spend more time on dictation and correction than required with human transcription. With speech recognition, major errors occur up to three times more frequently. In back-end use, a potential increase in productivity of transcriptionists was noted. In conclusion, speech recognition offers several advantages for medical reporting. However, these advantages are countered by an increased burden on medical doctors and by risks of additional errors in medical reports. It is also hard to identify for which medical specialties and which clinical activities the use of speech recognition will be the most beneficial.

Keywords: Productivity; Reporting error; Speech recognition; Systematic review; Transcription; Turnaround time.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Medical Records / standards*
  • Quebec
  • Speech Recognition Software / standards*