medical dictation software

The Best Medical Dictation Software According to Reddit

Medical dictation software has become a key tool for practitioners overwhelmed with medical documentation. On average, physicians spend 1-2 hours per day on documentation, which either takes time away from patient interactions or increases their overall workload, contributing to burnout. Over 90% of physicians suffer from burnout and 57% cite excessive documentation as a leading cause.

Medical dictation software converts your speech to text, so you can speak out what you want to type. Many practitioners turn to dictation to make documentation more efficient and reduce repetitive stress injury (RSI) pain. There are numerous dictation apps on the market. How can you narrow down the list to those that work well with medical terms and integrate with your EHR? We turned to the medical communities on Reddit to find the best options for medical practitioners.

However, medication dictation software isn’t the only option for taking notes more efficiently. Consider adding text expansion to your medical documentation tools to help write out repetitive notes and templates with just a few keystrokes.

What is medical dictation software?

Dictation software uses speech recognition to turn your speech into text. Professional-quality dictation software lets you train the software to your unique voice, so the software learns how to adapt to your accent and pronunciation for more accurate transcription. Additionally, it should offer the capability to edit and correct any mistakes in the dictation without the use of a keyboard.

Speciality medical dictation software adds features specifically for medical practitioners like EHR integration, recognition of medical terms, and HIPPA certification.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of dictation.

Pros of medical dictation

Medical dictation can offer many advantages over typing:

  • Can input text without using the keyboard
  • Saves hands, fingers, and wrists from repetitive stress injury
  • Could save time if you speak faster than you type

Cons of medical dictation

However, medical dictation also has many drawbacks:

  • Many struggle to get even the best dictation software to interpret their speech correctly
  • Even the best dictation software doesn’t get punctuation and capitalization perfect, so you’ll have to manually edit the output
  • Dictation can be even more draining than typing and strain your vocal chords, especially if you talk a lot in your practice already
  • You may feel shy about talking out loud to a machine
  • Many medical terms are difficult to speak out loud, like “sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia”
  • May not work well in noisy environments
  • The software can be prohibitively expensive

Alternatives to medical dictation

If you’re tired of typing but dictation isn’t a good fit, text expansion might be a better choice. Text expansion lets you type a shortcut that expands into something longer, like a long, difficult-to-spell word, a template, or a complete message. Many EHRs feature this capability, marketed under terms like dot phrases and smart phrases.

“I have noticed that talking makes me more tired than typing. Talking to Dragon in addition to talking to the patient and the staff takes a lot of energy. I get a headache. I use Epic ‘smart phrases.’ Everyone is different, though,” — says itsarainynight.

You can also use dot phrases to kickstart your note with a template and then use dictation to fill in each section.

“Do you use Epic? What you’re talking about could be accomplished with essentially equal effort by making some dot phrases if you’re not trying to dictate your entire note,” says Arachnoidosis on Reddit.

While dot phrases are a handy EHR feature, the problem is you can only use them inside your EHR. Consider a dedicated dot phrase tool like TextExpander:

  • TextExpander works in any app on your desktop, including your word processor and email apps.
  • You can customize TextExpander dot phrases with custom fill-ins, making it easy to create unique templates and messages.
  • TextExpander lets you securely synchronize your dot phrases with your entire team.
  • Don’t like dot phrases? You can use any abbreviation you like for your shortcuts.

Learn more about how TextExpander can help you spend less time on documentation and more time with patients.

Want to try it for yourself? Check out a free 30-day trial today. After the trial, TextExpander is much less expensive than dictation software: starting at $3.33 per month for individuals and $8.33 per month for team members.

TextExpander

“Every keystroke saved, is time saved, which means I can do my job longer and see more children.” — Dr. Melanie Hsu

Now that we’ve explored the pros and cons of dictation software and its alternatives, let’s look at the best options on the market, according to Redditors.

Top medical dictation choice: Nuance Dragon Medical One

Nuance’s Dragon line of dictation software is, bar none, the top choice of Reddit commentators in the medical community.

“imo it’s Dragon and nothing else comes close. I can practically slur into the microphone and it will turn it into a coherent note. If you take the time to train it you’ll be amazed with what it can transcribe,” says Redditor Arachnoidosis.

Nuance offers many Dragon products, but users agree that Dragon Medical One, which is marketed directly to medical providers, is the best option.

“Nothing compares to the efficiency of dragon medical one. Hands down the best dictation software I have tried.” says StopItWithThis.

“Also to answer your original question, dragon medical and dragon professional are absolutely different. I own both. I started with dragon professional but the accuracy is not ok with the speed you need to move at. Dragon Medical is very accurate and worth the $1200 per year if you do not want to do the work with Whisper,” says No-Presentation4524.

Special features of Dragon Medical One

In addition to its medical vocabulary, the marquee feature of Dragon Medical One is the capability to integrate with many popular EHR platforms so that you can navigate them with your voice. Here is a list of EHRs that Dragon Medical One currently supports:

  • Allscripts TouchWorks & Paragon
  • athenaClinicals
  • athenaFlow (formerly Centricity EMR) & athenaPractice (formerly Centricity Practice Solution)
  • Cerner CoPath Plus 2019
  • Cerner Millennium
  • eClinicalWorks (Web-based)
  • Epic Hyperspace
  • Flatiron OncoEMR
  • InterSystems TrakCare
  • McKesson iKnowMed Generation 2
  • MEDENT
  • MEDITECH Expanse & WebAmbulatory
  • NextGen Enterprise
  • Paragon Clinician Hub
  • Varian Aria OIS for Radiation Oncology

However, there are hundreds of EHR and EMR packages on the market, so if you don’t use one of the options above, it’s hard to say how well Dragon will work with it.

Drawbacks of Dragon Medical One

The chief drawback of Dragon Medical One is the price point, which may be prohibitive for residents and those just starting their careers. It costs $99 per month with a one-year commitment ($1,188 per year). A 2-year deal drops that slightly to $89 per month ($1,068 per year) and a 3-year option lowers that further to $79 per month ($948 per year).

Additionally, each license also requires a one-time $525 implementation fee on top of whatever you pay per month for the software.

Like any dictation software, you will also have to invest some time into training the software to your voice. However, since Dragon Medical One is tailor-made for medical professionals, you should have to spend less time training it on special terminology.

Dragon’s top competitor: 3M M*Modal Fluency Direct

While there is near-universal consensus on Dragon being the best medical dictation software, many are fans of 3M M*Modal Fluency Direct. 

“Former Dragon devotee here. We switched to 3M Fluency and it is wildly better than Dragon. Works with Epic just like Dragon did,” says Reddit user Porencephaly.

“M*Modal has a product called Fluency Direct which is what we use. I would recommend it; at the time we bought it they were much less expensive than Nuance/Dragon but they worked just as good in our opinion. We actually had a physician who worked at multiple locations go to his other locations and request/urge them to switch from Dragon to Fluency Direct,” says Redditor satisfier.

“used Dragon, was aight, system switched to M-modal and it is slightly better in my usage, both are good, not great. ease of use and learning curve both good and not too steep,” says ibexdoctor on Reddit.

3M M*Modal Fluency Direct vs. Dragon Medical One

M*Modal is aimed at larger organizations, so you have to talk to sales to obtain pricing information. However, it seems to be cheaper than Dragon. American Dictation resells a 3-year package with a microphone for $1,749.99, which brings the monthly cost down to $48.61 with no setup fee.

In addition to being less expensive, M*Modal also offers much broader EHR support, supporting over 250 electronic health record systems.

If the price is lower and its supports more EHRs, why isn’t M*Modal more popular than Dragon? Many users report that its voice recognition isn’t nearly as good.

“Mmodal never understood me, dragon does much better (and I have a standard Midwest accent, it shouldn’t be hard). Not sure about the dragon options, idk which we have but I’d guess the cheapest,” says Redditor NorwegianRarePupper.

“Having used mmodal and dragon- mmodal has the HARDEST time understanding me. I hate it,” says Electronic-Brain2241.

It’s important to note that personal preference is at play with dictation software. Some will work better with your voice than others.

Other medical dictation software solutions

Here are some other medical dictation picks by Redditors in healthcare communities.

Augnito Spectra

Augnito Spectra is a new, AI-powered medical transcription service. Unlike some of the big players, it doesn’t require a long-term commitment or a setup fee. Plans cost between $23 and $55 per month, paid annually, so it’s an affordable solution for smaller practices.

“ive been using this clinical speech recognition software called Augnito to take my notes. Its comparable to dragon in terms of features and accuracy but is alot more affordable. They even have special discounts for residents. Would recommend as it lets you directly dictate into your EMR- I use it at my clinic and hospital since residents dont get access to dragon,” says andrewbrownmd.

“I was in the same situation as you. After evaluating several options I went with Augnito. It’s accurate with medical terms and improves my productivity. They’re based outside the US but are incredibly responsive. It’s subscription based but the cost is much more reasonable than DMO,” says heroicparallelenergy.

Philips Dictation

Philips Dictation is marketed toward larger organizations, so you’ll have to talk to their sales team to find out about pricing. However, it received some positive feedback from Reddit users in medical communities.

“I used a phillips at my last practice and it worked perfectly with macro phrases and all. It’s only ~350$ but I was trying to avoid having one at all,” says TheActualDoctor.

Freed

Freed isn’t another dictation app. Instead, it’s an AI-powered charting tool. You record your session with a patient with Freed, which then automatically produces an after visit summary, SOAP notes, and a complete transcript. Letting an AI app record patient sessions might be off-putting, but Freed is HIPPA compliant.

Freed lets you try it for free 10 times. After that it costs $99 per month.

“Yes!!! This has changed my life!! It summarizes the most pertinent info and develops your treatment plan- mostly based on what you explain and educate patient on. Also does a summary of care letter for your patient, which I think the FNPs would utilize more than me. It also provides a transcript of conversation in case you need to add more info. First 10 are free to try,” says hnaude.

Otter

Otter is a general-purpose AI transcription service and despite solid security credentials, it doesn’t claim to be HIPPA-compliant. Despite that, many residents and practitioners swear by it.

“If you want a transcription rather than a pure dictation app, maybe try Otter. It’s more of a transcription software meant to record conversations and keep track of different voices. I’ve had varying results with it just testing random phrases, as it doesn’t recognize some medical terms by default, but on the other hand will get terms like lymphangioleiomyomatosis consistently,” says Turtleships

“Otter is the best transcription services for direct talk to words. Idk on patient confidentiality etc etc. or how it would fit into a work flow but I do love the accuracy,” says handstandsfor30s.

Otter works by either automatically joining and transcribing Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams meetings or by uploading an audio recording for transcription. It’s also very reasonably priced, starting at $10 per month.

What is the best medical dictation software for you?

Nuance Dragon is the gold standard, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s best for your needs. Some things to consider before purchasing:

  • How much are you willing to spend on dictation?
  • Are there hidden fees, like setup costs?
  • Is transcription even the right solution? Or would text expansion be a better option?
  • Does the software work with your EHR?
  • Does the medical dictation software comply with your organization’s security policies?

And, of course, oftentimes, you may not have a choice in which dictation software you use. Your organization may decide what, if any, dictation software you can use.