The Royal College of Radiology (RCR) reports unprecedented shortages across diagnostic radiologists – those who enable accurate treatment – and interventional radiologists who treat via non-invasive procedures. By RCR estimates, approximately 2,000 more consultants will be needed just to keep up with pre-pandemic demand for scans and surgery.

This shortfall shows no signs of disappearing any time soon. In fact, it’s expected to grow to 44% by 2025. It’s a concerning situation and the number of demoralised radiologists looking to work less and leave the NHS is even more worrying.

Without staff, patients face longer waits for radiology services and treatment, missing out on crucial early diagnoses and life-saving image-guided surgery.

Why the shortfall?

While the pandemic exacerbated the problem, the radiology shortage isn’t new or unique to radiology.

Other specialty technologists such as ultrasound, radiation therapy, MRI and CT are also reporting staffing shortfalls. Issues such as low pay, extended working hours, an ever-growing workload and outdated IT equipment or poor connectivity are long-standing NHS problems.

Now, the pandemic has worsened a significant challenge, with the potential healthcare workforce exploring new horizons thanks to remote or hybrid working, and shifting life priorities.

Avoid the radiology understaffing domino effect

To address staff shortages, new ways of working are critical. Without more consultants in training, improved staff retention and recruitment, expanding budgets and better staff support, the way things are done must change.

As a result, radiology reporting equipment and technology need to be fit for purpose, up-to-date and ahead of the curve where possible.

Ensuring that diagnosis and reporting are both as accurate and timely as possible is of the utmost importance. Otherwise, we are left with the growing alternative – delays that create a rapid decline in patient care standards. This impacts treatment outcomes and lives, which in turn creates a domino effect of impacts.

It is not just the radiology and healthcare sectors that will be failing in their duty of care. If consultants do not receive the right information, at the right time, they are unable to  diagnose. Meanwhile, relevant supporting staff will be affected by the extra workloads that reporting delays cause. It will ultimately be the patient that suffers, along with all those that depend or surround them: families, businesses, communities, and the economy.

Technology is not a cure for the NHS and radiology, but it can help. AI-powered clinical speech recognition solutions empower practitioners and save time. Cloud-based applications let radiologists, clinicians and healthcare staff report and enter patient data whenever and wherever it’s needed. The right technology helps staff do more in less time, more accurately, and without the location and connectivity constraints of older legacy systems.

Invest in the right speech recognition technology

Speech recognition technology is not new to radiologists. But not everyone has access to the latest benefits that cloud and AI voice-driven clinical SR solutions deliver. Speech recognition has changed in the last 15 years and continues to evolve. Today’s solutions equip radiologists to tackle the heavy lifting of reporting – and address backlogs – while mitigating the increase in reporting demand.

Radiologists need a solution that is future-proof and provides the latest in voice-driven AI. But making this change can be daunting.

As the developers of Augnito, we are a recent newcomer to the health-tech sector, but born with a strong dictation and transcription heritage thanks to our 20-year partnership with the NHS. We have seen the applications and technology that promised to fix clinical documentation backlogs but failed. In many cases, they created bigger problems.

Our advice to customers would be to seek a speech recognition solution that offers simplicity and accuracy.

  • Accuracy: to avoid mistakes and errors in data entry – a solution that understands radiology vocabulary, even when spoken with the strongest of accents.
  • Efficiency: to allow reports to be compiled easily and instantly.
  • Simplicity: to enable the user to ‘speak and report’ – a solution that works out of the box, without the need for typing, copying parts of documents, or sending files for transcription. And a solution that is cloud-based, not needing new versions or upgrades installed locally, and therefore keeping the IT burden low.
  • Costs: that provide scalability and flexibility – a solution that works within departmental budgets without high investment in user training, hardware, software, or infrastructure.
  • Time: to create instant reports, invest in patient care, and invest in the future of radiology – without having to spend hours searching patient records and notes, or contacting technical support to assist with system downtime and workflow issues.

Augnito provides a speech-enabled reporting solution that bolsters the capabilities of radiology teams and lets them be deployed where they are needed the most. Instead of restructuring specialists to cover radiographer or reporting tasks, Augnito allows radiologists to diagnose and report on patient cases directly. This means faster reporting, enriched patient data, and reduced clinical risk.

Radiology staff should feel confident in the technology that is available to support them, so they can deal with the demands of their day-to-day as easily and efficiently as possible. Secure cloud-based speech recognition is the key – and Augnito is a good start.

Sources for research/reference:

https://www.sor.org/news/government-nhs/radiographer-reporting-grows-as-nhs-struggles-with
https://www.carestream.com/blog/2021/10/19/filling-the-gaps-in-radiographer-staffing-shortages/
https://www.rcr.ac.uk/posts/new-rcr-census-shows-nhs-needs-nearly-2000-more-radiologists
https://www.radiologybusiness.com/topics/healthcare-management/healthcare-economics/staff-shortages-causing-stress-among-employees
https://www.ft.com/content/e0a69335-9951-4a97-aa17-f3cb3ce60374
http://www.himaa2.org.au/HIMJ/sites/default/files/HIMJ1410Lepanto.pdf

Across the NHS and healthcare generally, the past few years have been extremely challenging. Pre-pandemic, the burden on healthcare professionals was already significant. Now, practitioners are under more pressure than ever before.

As a key part of the diagnostic process, the pressure is perhaps nowhere more acute than in radiology. During the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, 63.2% of radiographers reported an increase in their workplace-related stress levels. This was the result of uncertainty in their working environment and major changes to routine departmental protocols. These protocols continued to change in the 24 months that followed. The combination of demand, low capacity and redeployment across diagnostic screening services saw a strained discipline reach breaking point.

With all this pressure, accuracy is at risk. That said, the challenges radiographers and radiologists face didn’t start in March 2020.

Rising strain across radiology in the UK

Staff shortages in radiology are nothing new. The Clinical Radiology UK Workforce Census Report 2018 highlighted a severe lack of radiology consultants. Three quarters of radiology clinical directors, then, didn’t feel they had enough radiology consultants to deliver safe patient care.

Unsurprisingly, the CQC’s 2018 Radiology Review measured slow reporting times across the NHS. One NHS Foundation Trust held a backlog of 33,400 unreported images, despite attempts to recruit more radiologists and use outsourced support at great expense.

In the years since, the COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified these challenges. With remote working tested by necessity, Trusts increasingly moved to remote/home and hybrid ways of working. However, this added an additional set of issues and risk for both radiologists and radiology reporting, owing to a significant increase in IT burden and technological challenges, as identified in the Clinical Radiology UK Workforce Census Report 2020 published in April 2021.

Even where the most forward-thinking Trusts had already embraced voice recognition technology, few were equipped for making these solutions available from, and to, where they were needed. As a result, most radiologists reverted back to typing their reports, or sending audio files for manual transcription by hospital administration staff or an outsourced transcription service.

In this climate of time pressure and increased image load – now worsened by the pandemic and its associated backlog – radiologists needed and still need comprehensive technological support to work effectively, productively and accurately.

Beyond equipment and capacity

Efforts to improve radiology across the NHS are emerging. The UK Treasury’s 2020 Spending Review earmarked £325 million for investment in new diagnostic imaging equipment. However, the sector remains critically understaffed – by 33% in 2020 and forecast to increase to 44% by 2025.

Technology alone can’t rapidly reduce the workforce shortfall. But replacing outdated hardware, devices and software as well as improving remote connectivity to clinical systems will help reduce errors, drive accuracy, increase efficiency and improve patient outcomes. Technology beyond imaging equipment and connectivity also has an important role to play in helping radiologists feed accurate information into the diagnostics process. Cloud is the key.

Cloud-based speech recognition solutions can transform radiology reporting. They provide ease of access, reduce delays and the risk of errors, and give radiologists and radiographers a consistent reporting experience, even when they’re working remotely.

Empowering radiologists to work accurately

To maximise their impact on reporting quality, speech recognition (SR) solutions need to go beyond accuracy. They need to make this accuracy available everywhere, seamlessly integrated with existing technology.

Radiology Information Systems (RIS) and Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) are undergoing an evolution. Innovations like SR are helping radiologists interpret and report on images faster. And, crucially, they’re designed to preserve accuracy in a way that simply wasn’t possible a decade ago. Meanwhile, NHS Trusts are moving toward a vendor neutral archive (VNA) – a way to store medical images in a standard format and make them accessible to professionals across a range of systems.

Augnito’s AI-driven SR and voice transcription technology is already being integrated into platforms from Hexarad (a teleradiology service provider) and products from Wellbeing Software, including Cris, the UK’s most widely used RIS.

Augnito brings flexibility and accessibility to radiology: as a SaaS and cloud-based solution that’s easy to implement and use, with no need for additional hardware or on-premise software.

Augnito is building the foundations for the future of radiology. Through voice, clinicians can unlock entirely new ways of working – and capture the accurate detail that practitioners and patients depend on.

Bringing confidence back to radiology

With reports instantly transcribed and fed into clinical systems, SR can significantly ease the IT and technological challenges that radiology has experienced in the last two years and reduce the burden on radiologists. Many existing users report time savings per day. But what radiologists really need is technology they can feel confident about – a way to guarantee that information is not only fast to capture, but accurate to the highest standards.

Innovative AI creates technology that radiologists can count on to deliver the precision they would expect from a committed team, or handwritten report. Augnito preserves the accuracy that every radiologist expects.

Augnito also has the potential to take accuracy even further – not just maintaining standards but taking them to new levels. Fundamentally, by reducing the stress and administrative strain on radiologists, Augnito unlocks more time to apply skills – to interpret and analyse images, before making accurate, informed decisions.

Preserving accuracy is at the core of what Augnito’s AI-powered SR can do, and by better supporting radiologists, we can help reshape the industry for a better, more accurate future.

 

 

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AUGNITO Shiraz Austin
 
 

18 May 2022 – The developers of Augnito a secure, cloud-based and AI-driven clinical speech recognition product suite, have recorded dramatic Q1 growth in the UK following the launch of its new flagship solution.

 
Clinical speech recognition (SR) solutions developer, Scribetech, has recorded rapid sales growth for its recently launched secure and portable AI-driven clinical SR product suite Augnito, which offers fast, effortless ways to capture live clinical data, on any device, with 99.3% accuracy.

Augnito was launched in late 2021 with active sales taking off in Q1 2022, its first UK trading quarter. The company has already secured in excess of 150 implementations in healthcare environments across England and a number of live pilots with NHS Trusts are also underway. The uplift has been driven by demand for its solution in the radiology sector, which has soared as the health service deals with the backlogs in imaging and reporting created by the pandemic.

The developers of Augnito are now setting their sights higher, aiming for sustained sales growth in its next financial year and is determined to continue to disrupt the clinical SR healthcare market. To help drive that, the business has also launched a dedicated channel program looking to sign up value-added resellers and managed service providers that have a healthcare focus and the technical skills necessary to deliver IT solutions for the market.

Shiraz Austin, Co-Founder for Augnito & Managing Director at Scribetech (UK) Ltd, said: “From the outset, Augnito was built in close partnership with clinicians, using human-centred design, to create a Natural Language Processing engine to fit their needs – not the other way round. As a result, Augnito offers excellent support for a wide variety of clinical vocabulary and workflows and this is what has driven market interest in, and sales of, our voice-AI solution.”

Since the beginning of the year Augnito has also been signed up by a number of strategic technology partners where its API and SDK product is augmenting workflows with cutting-edge technology to transform healthcare institutions to improve patient care across all departments.

Partnerships already underway include a leading supplier of specialist clinical information solutions Wellbeing Software, Cimar, a cloud-native health information medical imaging platform, and Hexarad, a UK leading teleradiology service provider and one of the UK’s fastest growing start-ups.

“We are extremely pleased with our performance. It’s really a strong validation of our vision and product capabilities; customers are increasingly looking to solutions such as ours which address a number of core issues that confront those on the healthcare frontline, such as improving efficiency and accuracy, as well as optimising clinical workflows,” added Austin.

Augnito is a secure and portable AI-driven clinical SR product suite that offers fast, effortless ways to capture live clinical data, on any device, with 99.3% accuracy. The SaaS cloud-based solution is proven to create highly accurate clinical records, improving the timing on everything from patient diagnosis to patient hospital stays in delayed transfers of care. Radiology departments have been the earlier adopters and pioneers of speech recognition technology to accommodate the ever-increasing levels of a wide variety of diagnostic reporting and the ever-expanding modality spectrum. Augnito now offers this sector an improved, more efficient way, to deliver their service using the benefits that voice-driven AI technology has to offer.

Developed as a cloud-based technology by Scribetech and based on 20 years of hands-on-experience delivering transcription and digital dictation services to the NHS, Augnito removes the need for healthcare IT teams to support the solution with additional hardware and/or software. Product application enhancements are also delivered in the cloud as soon as they are ready for release, without the need to upgrade locally installed versions. This reduces dependency on IT resource teams, potential associated product downtime, delays, and costs.

Austin concluded: “The investment we have made year-to-date represents the biggest outside of our Indian market. Furthermore, we have made additional investments in growing our UK channel footprint, with new management expertise now in place specifically to develop those partner relationships.”

“As we enter our new financial year, we have our sights on further international expansion powered by the growth in sales and revenue. It is our intention to add to a global Augnito team with our eyes firmly on the USA, APAC and Midle Eastern markets in the immediate term building on our successes here in the UK and India.”

AUGNITO Radiology Reporting
 
 

9 May 2022 – Augnito’s five-point guide for those healthcare organisations looking for an optimal radiology SR solution to improve workplace efficiency, morale and staff retention.

 
The Royal College of Radiology (RCR) reports unprecedented shortages across diagnostic radiologists – those who enable accurate treatment – and interventional radiologists who treat via non-invasive procedures. By RCR estimates, approximately 2,000 more consultants will be needed just to keep up with pre-pandemic demand for scans and surgery. According to Scribetech (UK) Ltd, a clinical voice-AI solution and disruptive technology provider, this shortfall shows no signs of disappearing any time soon. In fact, it’s expected to grow to 44% by 2025. It’s a concerning situation and the number of demoralised radiologists looking to work less and leave the NHS is even more worrying.

Shiraz Austin, Co-Founder and Managing Director for Augnito, stated: “Without staff, patients face longer waits for radiology services and treatment, missing out on crucial early diagnoses and life-saving image-guided surgery. While the pandemic exacerbated the problem, the radiology shortage isn’t new or unique to radiology.”

“To address staff shortages, new ways of working are critical. Without more consultants in training, improved staff retention and recruitment, expanding budgets and better staff support, the way things are done needs to change.”

Scribetech has developed a five-point ‘product’ checklist for radiologists looking for an effective SR solution to halt the decline in staff retention while boosting productivity:

  • • Accuracy: to avoid mistakes and errors in data entry – a solution that understands radiology vocabulary, even when spoken with the strongest of accents.
  • • Efficiency: to allow reports to be compiled easily and instantly.
  • • Simplicity: to enable the user to ‘speak and report’ – a solution that works securely out of the box, without the need for typing, copying parts of documents, or sending files for transcription. And a solution that is cloud-based to keep the IT burden low.
  • • Costs: that provide scalability and flexibility – a solution that works within departmental budgets without high investment in user training, hardware, software, or infrastructure.
  • • Time: to create instant reports, invest in patient care, and invest in the future of radiology – without having to spend hours searching patient records and notes, or contacting technical support to assist with system downtime and workflow issues.

 
“Ensuring that diagnosis and reporting are both as accurate and timely as possible is of the utmost importance. Otherwise, we are left with the growing alternative – delays that create a rapid decline in patient care standards. This impacts treatment outcomes and lives, which in turn creates a domino effect of impacts,” continued Shiraz.

Technology is not a cure for the NHS and radiology, but it can help. AI-powered clinical speech recognition solutions empower practitioners and save time. Cloud-based applications let radiologists, clinicians and healthcare staff report and enter patient data whenever and wherever it’s needed. The right technology helps staff do more in less time, more accurately, and without the location and connectivity constraints of older legacy systems.

Shiraz continued: “Speech recognition technology is not new to radiologists. But not everyone has access to the latest benefits that cloud, and AI voice-driven clinical SR solutions deliver. Speech recognition has changed in the last 15 years and continues to evolve. Today’s solutions equip radiologists to tackle the heavy lifting of reporting – and address backlogs – while mitigating the increase in reporting demand.”

Augnito provides a speech-enabled reporting solution that bolsters the capabilities of radiology teams and lets them be deployed where they are needed the most. Instead of restructuring specialists to cover radiographer or reporting tasks, Augnito allows radiologists to diagnose and report on patient cases directly. This means faster reporting, enriched patient data, and reduced clinical risk.

“Radiology staff should feel confident in the technology that is available to support them, so they can deal with the demands of their day-to-day as easily and efficiently as possible. Secure cloud-based speech recognition is the key – and Augnito is a good start,” concluded Shiraz.

28 April 2022 – During the last two COVID-19 pandemic years, 63% of radiographers reported an increase in their workplace-related stress levels due to a combination of demand, low capacity, major changes to routine departmental protocols and redeployment. However, according to Scribetech (UK) Ltd, a clinical voice-AI solution and disruptive technology provider, the strain the discipline is under was already reaching breaking point prior to the pandemic – and now more than ever – solutions are required to bring back confidence in the profession.

The CQC’s 2018 Radiology Review, which measured slow reporting times across the NHS, already highlighted then, a backlog of 33,400 unreported images at one Foundation Trust alone, despite attempts to recruit more radiologists and reverting to the use of outsourced support at great expense.

Both in that same year and in 2020, the Clinical Radiology UK Workforce Census Reports highlighted a severe lack of radiology consultants. Three quarters of radiology clinical directors didn’t feel they had enough radiology consultants to deliver safe patient care in the working environment. In addition, the 2020 report also found that while Trusts moved to remote/home and hybrid ways of working, this came with an additional set of issues and risk for radiologists and radiology reporting, owing to an increase in IT and technological challenges. Even where the most forward thinking Trusts had already embraced voice/speech recognition applications, few were equipped to make these available for remote access and efficient in connectivity. As a result, most radiologists reverted back to typing their reports or sending audio files for manual transcription.

Shiraz Austin, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Scribetech, stated: “Efforts to improve radiology across the NHS are emerging. The UK Treasury’s 2020 Spending Review earmarked £325 million for investment in new diagnostic imaging equipment. However, radiology remains critically understaffed – by as much as 33% and forecast to increase to 44% by 2025.”

With rising demand for radiology year-on-year, adding more equipment and more staff simply isn’t enough. Existing radiologists need support to work efficiently and accurately today – without adding technology challenges and compromising on attention to detail and risking reporting errors or mistakes.

“In part, replacing outdated equipment and improving connectivity to clinical systems will help reduce errors, drive accuracy and improve patient outcomes. Technology beyond imaging equipment also has an important role to play in helping radiologists feed accurate information into the diagnostics process; cloud-based solutions are the key” added Austin.

Radiology Information Systems (RIS) and Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) are undergoing a transformation. Innovations like speech recognition are helping radiologists interpret and report on images faster. And, crucially, they are designed to preserve accuracy in a way that simply wasn’t possible a decade ago. Meanwhile, NHS Trusts are moving toward a Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA) – a way to store medical images in a standard format and make them accessible to professionals across a range of systems.

“In recent years, speech recognition (SR) solutions have advanced significantly. With SR the radiologist can dictate the case, edit it (if necessary), and complete the report all at once, which makes the final file available almost immediately. In turn, the clinician can review this report sooner than would have been possible in the traditional reporting method. This leads to better patient care, since they [the patient] can move onto the next step in their workup and diagnosis, or begin treatment sooner.”

“It also leads to a more accurate and informed report as it’s completed while the radiologist is reviewing the images, before details and notes of the case might be forgotten. Plus, there’s less chance of the report getting misfiled or lost in the system. One final consideration is that this type of speech-enabled radiology reporting process can lead to a more satisfied referring clinician, since each report is available sooner, as well as a more satisfied radiologist, due to a sense of completion in knowing that each report will not have to be reviewed again.”

“With reports instantly transcribed and fed into clinical systems, AI driven cloud-based SR solutions such as Augnito, can significantly reduce the burden on radiologists even more. Many users report time savings, but what radiologists really need is secure technology they can feel confident about, knowing that its level of accuracy is such that it is “right first time” – a way to guarantee that information is not only fast to capture, but accurate to the highest standards,” concluded Austin.