As we look back on 2023, we are reflecting on the topics that have been front of mind for every healthcare professional. For many, 2023 was another year of intense pressure, limited resources, and searching for ways to work more efficiently and improve the patient journey.

Throughout the year, we have considered many of the most significant, complex issues facing the NHS today. From Delayed Transfers of Care to understanding the real cost—and value—of new technology, we have discussed how AI-powered speech recognition can dramatically improve workloads and, ultimately, patient outcomes.

But how much has changed since we first discussed these important topics? And how can speech continue to deliver measurable value to healthcare professionals across every discipline and specialism?

The continued pressure of bed shortages

Back in January 2023, we wrote about the relationship between dwindling bed stocks, high occupancy rates, and Delayed Transfers of Care. Initiatives like the Urgent and Emergency Care Plan laid the foundation for improvement over time, but almost 12 months later, the number of available beds across the NHS remains low.

In December 2023, the NHS Confederation was reportedly ‘worried’ about the continued lack of beds, particularly in Yorkshire and north-east England. With occupancy hitting heights of 95%, Trusts are left exposed to surging flu rates and seasonal illnesses. At the same time, high occupancy also drives infection risk, potentially worsening an already fraught situation.

Speech recognition solutions like Augnito Spectra have a role to play in accelerating safe discharge by reducing internal delays. When clinical workfllows and reporting are fast, flexible and accurate, patients can be safely transferred outside of the NHS, freeing up vital bed space for someone else.

A national emergency for mental healthcare

We also discussed the current state of mental health services in the UK, describing a flashpoint where the available resources need to be rapidly expanded to keep up with surging demand. Sadly, more recent news articles suggest a system that’s perpetually struggling to keep up.

According to The Guardian, the NHS Confederation described mental healthcare in England as a ‘national emergency’ in October 2023. Many NHS leaders observe that mental health has ‘slipped down the government’s set of priorities’, with patients suffering as a result. The situation is similar across the wider UK—in Scotland’s December 2023 budget, mental health funding was cut by almost £30 million.

For mental health professionals (MHPs), new ways of working can enable manual tasks to be completed faster and more flexibly. Crucially, a speech recognition platform, like Augnito, enables MHPs to capture notes in a way that’s natural and intuitive, so more attention can be paid to important patient interactions and those personal, often difficult and emotional conversations.

The continued evolution of patient data

Finally, we looked at patient data in its various formats across 2023. We discussed the importance of interoperability, sharing patient data securely to enable collaboration across multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs). We also tracked the evolution of patient data, including the changing nature of patient records and the heightened importance of accuracy and clarity.

Despite some controversy around privacy, 2024 will undoubtedly see new changes in the way patient data is stored, captured, shared and processed.

Augnito Voice Services and Augnito Spectra will continue to deliver wide-reaching benefits across healthcare with 99.3% accurate, AI-powered transcription that’s available anywhere, on any device. Our aim in 2024 will focus even more on how Augnito modernises the way healthcare professionals report, so, in turn, patient journeys and experiences can be modernised too. All in a single cloud-hosted platform that can be integrated into your EPR system for secure sharing.

Increasingly, patient journeys are becoming digital journeys—and the quality of the data you hold is key.

Learn more about Augnito

See how Augnito Spectra delivers measurable benefits now while future-proofing the way you capture patient data. Request a demo or try Augnito Spectra for 7 days and see the benefits for yourself.

With seemingly endless pressure on bed stocks, waiting lists, and workloads, technology is often used by the NHS for its immediate benefits. With a mindset of problem solving, trusts and healthcare providers are looking for faster, more flexible ways to work now. But the always-changing nature of healthcare means any effective technology has to consider the long term.

Speech recognition and digital transcription platforms allow healthcare professionals to capture important information wherever and whenever they need to — without waiting for time-consuming transcription or updating records manually. But a solution that saves time and delivers results today, might not be fit for purpose as our relationship with patients — and their data — continues to change.

A look back across the history of patient data shows us that change is the only constant and the only effective technology is one that’s future-proofed and always improving.

A history of patient data in the UK

Patient data and records have been a key part of UK healthcare for over a century. As far back as 1911, GPs were required to keep written records for all working-age men, supporting the government’s compulsory health insurance scheme. These paper records were deeply embedded by the time the NHS was established – a single, self-contained resource that was easy to misplace, but also easy to secure and manage.

The digital revolution saw a similar overhaul of how patient data is stored and handled. While the first use of computers for record keeping in a GP surgery date back to 1970, the two decades since the millennium have seen rapid changes to expectations around data from government and patients alike.

The NHS began widely deploying electronic health records in 2005, investing in the digital infrastructure to store and share patient data across the country. Today, we’re all familiar with electronic patient record systems (EPRs) and their role as hubs of patient data.

This ongoing change creates new and emerging requirements for technology. At the advent of the NHS, the best record keeping platform was a strong filing cabinet with a lock. Now, healthcare professionals need robust, reliable software as well as intuitive, flexible ways of interacting with that software and capturing data.

The changing nature of patient records

While the means of accessing and storing patient data is always changing over time, the nature of those records is shifting too. 2015 saw the start of an NHS initiative to let patients access summary electronic medical records and, since 2022, almost all NHS patients have been able to see their data via the NHS app.

For the healthcare professionals capturing those notes, reports, and records, this creates new pressure. With potential scrutiny from patients, it’s now more important than ever that notes are clear, detailed, content-rich and free from confusing jargon. In general, this is making patient notes longer and more complex to write, intensifying the need for a fast-yet-accurate way to work. However, in the long run, this will overcome ambiguity and misinterpretation.

Speech recognition and voice-driven AI technology has an important role to play, enabling healthcare professionals to work up to four times faster and offset some of this growing complexity by simply dictating directly into the digitised patient record.

The future of patient data: digital, secure, compliant

Finally, the digitalisation of patient data creates new obligations around security and privacy. NHS Trusts and healthcare providers need to strike the balance between enabling access to data while strengthening resilience against data breaches, accidental disclosure, and cyber-attacks. As AI continues to develop and we unlock new ways to work with, and learn from patient data, these risks are set to intensify.

Augnito Spectra is built for the digital future of patient data. With 99.3% accurate, AI-powered real-time transcription, Augnito Spectra provides a digital way to capture notes and create reports simply by speaking: a natural, human way to interact without the need to type and, more specifically with no wait for manual transcription. With integration into your EPR system, data can be securely sent to wherever it needs to be, contained within the patient record in clear language for easy authorised recollection

At the same time, Augnito Spectra is always evolving, much like the way patient data is handled. As a cloud-hosted platform, Augnito Spectra is being constantly updated with the latest features — from interface changes to security enhancements, reducing clinical risk, streamlining, and adapting to the way healthcare professionals work.

Learn more about Augnito

See how Augnito Spectra delivers measurable benefits now while future-proofing the way you capture patient data. Request a demo and see the benefits for yourself.