I still work in the pharmacy on occasion. It keeps me up to date with changes that Iâ€™ve made to various pharmacy systems and gives me the opportunity to make sure my pharmacist skills havenâ€™t evaporated. One thing it doesnâ€™t do is get me away from my current technology related duties. In fact it puts me closer to the action and even more accessible to pretty much everyone, which means I spend a majority of my â€œstaffingâ€ time dealing with things related to our automation; carousel picks and loads, packager fills, compunder checking, labeler input and checking, minor troubleshooting, etc. Itâ€™s not that someone else canâ€™t do it, but thatâ€™s the way it works out.
Anyway, during one of my staffing days last week I found myself spending a lot of time around our AutoCarousels and AutoPack machine. The technicians had an unusual number of items to package in addition to a fair number of new items to teach to the AutoPharm formulary. After my umtenth time logging into the packager, it dawned on me that speech recognition would be a great thing to have; no keyboard, no mouse, just me talking to the machine. I wouldnâ€™t need a password because it would recognize my voice.
Speech recognition isnâ€™t an exotic idea. It comes standard with Windows Vista, and from what Iâ€™ve read works pretty well. Itâ€™s not even new to healthcare as a quick Google search revealed speech-enabled EMRs.
Speech recognition is based on a statistical approach that provides the probability of a given word sequence. The computer turns your voice into a stream of digital data and compares the signals to words in its dictionary, which is a database of commonly used words found in the English language. Itâ€™s not perfect, but it sure is neat.
Wouldnâ€™t it be nice to walk up to my AutoPack and say â€œfill-sevelamer-800mg- tablets-quantity-fiftyâ€ and simply walk away? I think so. We could even give the packager a cool voice to answer with. How about a pirate: â€œYarr matey, packagin’ fifty, 800mg sevelamer tablets. Argh.â€ Or maybe the voice of HAL from 2001 A Space Odyssey: â€œGood morning, Jerry. Initializing packaging sequence. Your sevelamer tablets will be available in approximately 2 minutes, 36 seconds.â€ Now, that would be cool. If only.