DNS – Dragon Naturally Speaking Medical

Ever since college(which really isn’t that long ago) I’ve been completely fascinated by the idea of Dragon Naturally Speaking and its ability to recognize your voice. Before getting into EMR and the healthcare field the best use of this technology had to be in journal keeping. I think that many more people would be interested in writing journals if they could just dictate their journals each night. In fact, I wish that Dragon Naturally Speaking would come out with a built in journal, mic and their software(possibly on top of linux) just to keep my journal. I guess I’m imagining something similar to an ipod size that you can connect to your computer and upload the file. It could even record your voice so that if you needed it later you could fix any errors. I digress.

Now that I’ve had a heavy dose of EMR experience I can see the value of Dragon Naturally Speaking (and other voice recognition software) in the medical field. First, it is a great baby step for those doctors that are use to dictating their notes. Why not save thousands of dollars of dictation cost, but still allow the doctor to dictate notes directly into an EMR. It’s a great middle ground for those doctors that need a little more convincing about an electronic medical record.

Second, I work with someone who has medical problems that leave her in a lot of pain if she types at any length. Dragon Naturally Speaking couldn’t be a better fit for this problem. She is in a counseling center and so they very rarely have anything but free form entry of notes. They don’t use much granular entry of data into the EMR because each case and each counselor is unique in their style. Voice recognition technology to the rescue.

My biggest problem with voice recognition software and Dragon Naturally Speaking in particular is the cost. The standard edition is priced at a very reasonable price of about $200. The professional version is priced at $600. The medical version is just over $1000. I personally would love to have the standard version for myself since I use simple language(as my blog will certainly show). The professional version just seems like a good way for Dragon Naturally speaking to make some money off of you. The medical version however is the real kicker. It offers some absolutely necessary features like medical dictionaries. I got a list of available medical dictionaries from my friend Eric over at voicerecognition.com:

Allergy, Cardiology, Chiropractic, Dermatology, Disability, Endocrinology, ENT, Family Practice, Gastroenterology, General Medicine, General Surgery, Internal Med, Neurology, Nephrology , OBGYN, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics, Plastic Surgery, Pathology, Pediatrics, Podiatry, Psychiatry, Physical Medicine, Physical Therapy , Psychology, Neuro Psychology, Radiology/Nuclear, Medicine, Rheumatology, Urology, Urgent Care, Workers Comp., Drug Update

Honestly I didn’t really know there were that many different medical dictionaries and specialties that could use DNS for EMR. You can see there are plenty of choices. The real question is whether it’s worth $1000. Plus, it is always good to know that you are going to like the product before you spend $1000 just to find out that it wasn’t as good as you would have liked. One good thing I have seen is that if you get into Dragon Naturally Speaking then it is much less expensive to just keep upgrading the product each year. That’s a pretty good situation since you get the latest and greatest, but don’t have to repurchase the entire package.

While I think Dragon Naturally Speaking is great I am really looking forward to the day that Microsoft finally catches up in this arena. Windows has some built in voice recognition software that from everything I’ve read just really doesn’t cut it yet. I hope they invest in this arena so that one day we’ll have this great product for a much more reasonable price.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Interesting article, as well as the one today on Dragon Medical Enabled EHR – Chart Talk . I’ve implemented Dragon Medically Speaking with two big Picis ED systems and for the the end user (MD) it is usually a positive experience. For the EMR, there is some work to be done as most of the data comes in as “not discrete” and the sophistication of our EMRs will require more discrete data. The Dragon Medically Speaking product is well worth the price and physicians should/ could negotiate this with the facilities.

  • GK,
    Glad to hear you liked both articles. I’ve talked with Nuance a couple times and they’re working really hard on trying to find a solution to the discrete data problem. We’ll see how that all plays out over time, but they want to be the leader in it.

  • As noted, Dragon has a fine product (s) and I’ve no doubt that they will work with the EMR vendors to develope the “back end” work that will require mapping the discrete data into the charts/EMR for optimal use.

  • I am interested in the issue of whether it is really necessary to buy the medical version. Supposedly the program learns from reading you emails and other files. If one has years of charts dictated into MS Word, you could have dragon go through them and learn from that.

  • Steve,
    DNS doesn’t read text, but I did hear someone say you could get the pro version of DNS which is much cheaper and then they fed in all of their transcription recordings to train it on the medical terminology they use most. I thought it was a genius idea. They suggested this is the way to avoid the expensive DNS medical version.

    Those trying to sale Dragon will say that there are other differences, but I personally can’t say they’re worth $1000 difference.

Click here to post a comment