As part of our NHS at 70 series we spoke with Dr Simon Wallace, Chief Clinical Information Officer (CCIO) at Nuance Communications Healthcare Division.
Dr Wallace is a GP and public health doctor with 15 years of commercial experience modernising and improving the delivery of healthcare. He has experience and a deep understanding of the structure and culture of both the NHS and the private healthcare sector, in the UK and abroad.
Nuance Healthcare provides speech recognition solutions for the healthcare market, including fast voice-to-text and voice-navigation for clinical systems, to enable doctors and healthcare professionals to input or find patient information faster and easier.
Dr Wallace has considerable experience of working with startups, national and international companies such as 3 (formerly Hutchison 3G), AXA PPP healthcare, Bupa, Cerner Corporation, Dr Foster Intelligence, FIFA, GSK, Map of Medicine (now owned by Hearst Publishing), MSD, Optima-life and Worldcare UK. He has also carried out his own academic research into the role of digital technology and health at the healthcare think tank, The King’s Fund.
Tech innovation in the NHS liberates carers to care
“Today in the NHS, technology such as AI-powered Clinical Speech Recognition (as an example!) is making lives easier and more meaningful,” says Dr Wallace.
“Recently, the Emergency Department of South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust reported this technology had aided time savings in documenting care to such a significant degree, that the savings equated to the hours of almost two full-time clinical staff over the course of a year.
“Moving forward we need to imagine a world where doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and care teams, can experience ambient intelligence and mobility across devices in any care setting, thereby liberating them to have even more time to care for patients.
How AI is accelerating the disruption of healthcare
“Technology has the potential to make this a reality and real-time AI is accelerating the disruption of healthcare. Nuance invests in AI because we trust its ability to help us address three key challenges: healthcare costs, quality documentation and patient care.
“The impact AI will have on healthcare comes from a new and expanded use of AI-powered solutions, such as speech recognition and conversational virtual assistants combined with mobility.
“In the US, we already focus on augmenting a clinician’s capabilities with data and intelligence. Integrating these into clincian’s regular workflow allows problems to be solved faster and more avenues to be opened to improve diagnoses and treatments. If we continue to embrace solutions like this, we can advance the day to day experiences of all in the healthcare system, and allow the NHS to deliver an even more efficient service.”
From paper to cloud: the future of clinical documentation
Dr Wallace reflects that the NHS has transformed itself over the past seven decades, with patient services evolving beyond recognition. Against a multitude of challenges – from budget constraints to an aging population – our public health service’s dedicated healthcare professionals work to deliver world-class patient services.
“However, our health system still needs to improve care and clinician satisfaction and a key area of focus should be on clinical documentation,” he notes. “Clinical documentation is vitally important in tracking any patient’s journey through the care system, but it is also becoming more time consuming to complete.
“Intelligent systems that help clinicians naturally document care so they can focus on patients are essential to optimise clinical and financial outcomes and are set to make significant impact in the industry.
“Nuance recently reflected on the history of clinical documentation over the 70 years of NHS history, finding that too many staff are held back by a lack of strategic investment in technology to support this process.
“Today, it is vital for the healthcare system to embrace AI and cloud-based solutions to enable clinicians to record and share information within their own and partner organisations more reliably, flexibly and efficiently than ever before. This boosts the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of recorded data and frees clinicians to get back to the key role of their job – caring for their patients.”