NHS Wales Legal & Risk Services, part of the NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership, has partnered with BigHand, a specialist provider of digital dictation and speech recognition, to improve the speed and efficiency of its legal correspondence processes.
NHS Wales Legal & Risk Services, which is committed to providing high quality and comprehensive legal services to the Wales NHS Trusts and Health Boards, initially implemented BigHand’s digital dictation system. Following cost savings in excess of £16,000 with this technology, the organisation has recently gone live with Bighand’s speech recognition technology to achieve further incremental efficiencies and cost savings.
The majority of Legal and Risk’s correspondence is time critical, which meant that in times of sickness and holiday, temporary secretarial staff had to be employed. The inability to share dictations recorded on analogue tapes amongst the secretarial staff quickly and easily meant that annual temporary cover costs remained at a consistent high.
Ruth Baillie, Business Manager, NHS Wales Legal & Risk Services, comments “The move to digital dictation from analogue tapes was driven by four key factors: the increasing cost of employing temporary secretarial staff to process correspondence; to enable dictations to be shared easily among the secretaries; to improve the sound quality of the recordings; and to replace the previous, outdated system. As a result of implementing BigHand’s digital dictation solution, we experienced many benefits across the organisation and most notably our annual temporary secretarial costs were greatly reduced, which was reflected in the savings that were made each year following the introduction of digital dictation.”
In 2009, NHS Wales Legal & Risk Services decided to expand its use of digital dictation technology in order to achieve further incremental cost savings. Speech recognition software seemed the obvious solution.
“Speech recognition was the next step for us,” Ruth continues, “We initially ran a pilot with BigHand which went extremely well and everyone who was part of the trial was very enthusiastic. However, due to cost restrictions we could not go ahead initially and instead opted for an ‘off-the-shelf’ product. Problems soon began to occur and it was clear to us that we needed a more robust system that would include the one-to-one training provided by BigHand. We therefore contacted BigHand to begin the implementation process which was completed in the summer 2013.”
Bighand’s speech recognition solution, which is currently being used by 49 people including solicitors, trainee solicitors and paralegals, has furthermore dramatically reduced the average turnaround time of a document from 38 hours to 27 hours; an important factor in managing time-sensitive correspondence.
Ruth continues, “The introduction of speech recognition has freed up secretarial time, allowing secretaries to develop their skills by providing additional administrative support to the solicitors. It has also enabled us to increase our fee earning staff without the need to employ additional secretarial support.
“The results we have seen really have been fantastic and it is all thanks to the enthusiasm and professionalism of Legal and Risk’s staff and the support and training provided by BigHand. This has been a substantial investment made by Legal and Risk but it has undoubtedly been a worthwhile investment as we continue to reap the benefits.”