Voice-recognition tool aids battlefield doctors

Surgeons, radiologists and other specialists practicing battlefield medicine in Iraq are being outfitted with voice-recognition software to help them record their notes on patient care more quickly.

The Military Health System says the technology is particularly useful in combat zones, where doctors carry heavy patient loads. The software, Nuance Communications’ Dragon NaturallySpeaking Medical 9.5, works with the Army’s Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4) system, which runs on laptop PCs.

The software is configured for roaming so doctors don’t need to haul their laptop PCs from place to place but can use one already stationed in a clinic or operating room. Air Force Lt. Col. John Mansfield, a urologist at the Balad military hospital in Iraq, reports that the system has cut his documentation time in half.

The notes created in the MC4 system end up in the permanent files the Defense Department maintains for service members in its AHLTA electronic medical record system, and they are accessible wherever the patient goes for treatment in the Military Health System.

About the Author

Nancy Ferris is senior editor of Government Health IT.

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