Winscribe: A Revolution In Dictation Products

The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, 15 June, 2009 -The Editor interviews Amy Clevidence,  Global Marketing Operations Manager of Winscribe, Inc., an award-winning provider of digital dictation workflow management solutions.

Editor: Why should lawyers dictate rather than prepare their own documentation or self-composition?

Clevidence:  On average we speak at a  rate of about 150 words per minute. On average a person types only at a rate of about 33 words per minute. When composing documentation, however, our average typing rate declines, reducing to about 19 words per minute owing to revising as you go along. By leveraging speech as an asset and using support staff to aid and document creative work, lawyers are able to free up a significant amount of time that can be used for other purposes.

Editor: Digital dictation has been around for sometime. Why aren’t more firms using it?

Clevidence:  One reason that more lawyers are not leveraging dictation is because they are simply not trained to use it. Many law schools today no longer teach dictation as part of their standard curriculum, regarding it as an outdated process. U.S. businesses have evolved to a point where we as business professionals are self-sufficient not wanting to rely on additional parties to complete our work. Once lawyers learn the benefits that dictation provides, more firms will take advantage of this opportunity.

Editor: Please tell me the difference between digital dictation taken alone and digital dictation with workflow.

Clevidence: The term digital dictation refers only to the manner in which dictation is captured. In the past lawyers used analog tapes to capture dictation which made for serious challenges – tapes have moving parts, making them susceptible to breakage as well as loss. The primary challenge is the temptation to load each tape with a backlog of work, which when delivered to a typist may contain many memos, some of which are delayed over time. Digital dictation eliminates the need for tapes and the likelihood of loss. Dictation can be delivered immediately for transcription by email or file transfer protocol. But there are limits to this method, too – you are relying upon an email system or a file transfer protocol to deliver. One step further is to use digital dictation with workflow. Aworkflow system is simply a sophisticated software package that adds intelligence to the dictation and transcription process. The system can be customized to match the workflow needs of an organization. The software ensures that dictations are automatically routed to the right place as quickly as possible.  

Editor: What portable options are available that enable authors to dictate away from the office?

Clevidence:  There are several portable  devices that are available for attorneys who dictate. They can use what is called a tethered speech mike that attaches right to the laptop computer so that they can dictate from the PC when they are outside the office. They can use a digital portable device which is very similar in appearance to a cassette recorder. Or they can actually use a mobile device. Some lawyers leverage telephony in order to capture dictation so they can still utilize the telephone if they choose to do that. They can also use applications that actually run on smartphones like their Blackberry or Nokia Smartphone or a Windows Mobile device. There are workflow management systems today that are entirely web-based that require no additional hardware or software expenditure. So attorneys can dictate via their Blackberry and submit that dictation back to the office for transcription. If the typist is working from home, there are web-based applications where a typist can be sitting at home and as long as his computer is hooked up to the Internet, he can receive the audio file and transcribe the document. 

Editor: Just so I understand: you have a microphone attached to your computer when you are dictating or you can speak into a telephone and at the other end a computer is picking up the sound?

Clevidence:  Correct. If you are using a  telephone, you would dial a phone number that connects you to a telephony port on a server. You then use a key pad prompt, depending on your own customization of the keys, i.e., one key designating “record,” another designating “stop.” You set all of those custom keys up to your own specifications. Once you complete your dictation and submit it, the system imports the audio digitally and pushes it out via the server to whomever needs to transcribe it.    

Editor: Does a digital dictation system with workflow allow for dictations to be routed to a transcriptionist who may not be the one originally designated?

Clevidence: Some do. The current version  of Winscribe Dictation provides users with automatic rerouting capabilities. Let’s say that an attorney, John, has a workflow established that automatically routes all of his work to his preferred typist, Sue. John submits a priority dictation to Sue that needs immediate attention, yet Sue has called in sick and will not be at the office this day. With some systems, John’s priority dictation would sit in the queue waiting for Sue to return to work. This is not the case, however, with Winscribe Dictation. Winscribe Dictation offers users the ability to set up workflow exceptions. In this case, John could have a workflow rule established that says that if he submits a priority job to Sue, and Sue is not available, an alert is sent back to John that notifies him of Sue’s absence and prompts him to send the work elsewhere. Alternatively, a workflow rule could be established that mandates that if Sue is unavailable, John’s work automatically routes to Jack, another transcriptionists in the firm.  

Editor: Assuming our firm has multiple offices, can I have my dictation sent to a transcriptionist or typist pool in another office in a different city?

Clevidence: Each of your attorneys and each of your typists could be in different geographical areas – it makes absolutely no difference. Everything is web-based so once you submit a dictation for transcription the server handles the delivery.  

Editor: How is digital dictation different from speech recognition? Can they work in tandem, complementing one another, to make the dictation to transcription process faster and more cost effective?

Clevidence: Again, digital dictation again is just the capture of audio in digital form. Speech recognition by contrast is actually the conversion of spoken speech to typewritten text. Each user of speech recognition has his own personal speech profile that is recognized by a powerful speech recognition engine. These intelligent engines recognize the spoken word and convert that spoken word to typewritten text.

Winscribe Dictation is the only workflow suite that integrates speech recognition into the digital dictation workflow process. Winscribe is able to support two forms of recognition: front-end or client side and back-end or server side recognition.

If a user did not want to use a transcriptionist, for example, he could use what is called front-end speech recognition. The user simply dictates as he would do normally. His spoken word is converted to typewritten text on his computer screen as he speaks. Any corrections needed are made by the author as the document is created. Alternatively, the author could mark the job as partly corrected or not corrected and send it and the audio file to a transcriptionist for completion.

Conversely, there is an option called back-end speech recognition. With this process a person speaks as he normally would and the conversion process happens in the background unbeknownst to the author. The typewritten text as well as the captured audio would both be routed to a  transcriptionist who would then compare the two documents to make sure that the typewritten conversion accurately reflects the original speech and vice versa.

Some persons do well with pure speech recognition while others are more comfortable having their documents typed. A combination of the two technologies within a firm is very cost effective as individuals are able to choose the method that works best for them.

Editor: How does digital dictation contribute to a positive ROI?

Clevidence: At its core digital dictation helps those lawyers who are accustomed to dictating; it helps to capture audio better; it improves sound quality for the transcriptionists; it provides instant delivery and avoids besieging your typist with multiple assignments. Furthermore, jobs move steadily through the system, avoiding peaks and valleys and allowing you to review your workflow. How much work are you producing? What types of work are you producing? Who do you have supporting the transcription of all of those documents? Because you are forced to look at the workflow process, it helps you in streamlining your operations. ROI is a very difficult thing to measure, specifically in this scenario because it is so heavily driven by process – the better the process, the better your ROI. We have some firms that Winscribe supports that have reduced their document turn-around time from three days to fifteen minutes. We have others that have reported gains of thirty to fifty percent. It all depends on how you use it. But digital dictation can be huge when it comes to improved efficiencies, especially in firms that are not using dictation at all.

Editor: What are the unique advantages of Winscribe Dictation?

Clevidence: Winscribe Dictation is a very scalable product, meeting the needs of both small and large firms. Winscribe offers multiple licensing options. For smaller firms Winscribe offers a software service platform which is subscriptionbased that allows users to pay a monthly fee for each user who accesses the system. For larger firms that may wish to host a system internally we offer a traditional software license that users can purchase. Winscribe offers web-based solutions so it works very well with firms that have support staff who work remotely. We offer dictation via a multitude of input devices so users can often leverage the technology they have in house, e.g., speech microphones, digital pocket menus, various mobile devices such as Blackberry or Nokia smartphones, etc. If it is a fairly recent device developed in the last five or ten years, Winscribe will most likely be adaptable to it .

Editor: And you have technicians who will help companies set up these systems?

Clevidence: Absolutely. We have five support centers worldwide with 24 hour, seven day support available at all times. Those offices are located in Australia, New Zealand Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and each has support technicians who can provide support by telephone and by email.

Editor: You have a software licensing system that allows even a small company to take advantage of its utility.

Clevidence: One of the biggest advantages of Winscribe is the fact that we can support the smaller offices as well as the large. It is very scalable, fully customizable and can equally meet the needs of a firm with five attorneys or one with 2,000 attorneys. One of the best attributes that it has is the fact that it really conforms to your own style of work. You tell us the way that you want it to work and we customize the program to your unique needs.

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