What Is the Dragon Microphone?
The Dragon Medical software microphone is the entry point for all of the live dictation you need to perform—whether you’re a physician, nurse, radiologist, surgeon, dentist, or specialist. You can find it on the far left side of the DragonBar, which is the main interface module in the application.
In spite of what you might think, just because you’re speaking into a headset or a handheld microphone doesn’t mean that Dragon Medical is listening to you. In addition to having the application running and an input device connected, you also need to have the software microphone activated. This alerts the program to start listening to everything that comes through your physical microphone.
If you’re not sure how to turn on the software microphone in Dragon Medical Practice Edition 2, we’ve got you covered.
Why Is the Software Microphone Important?
The software microphone is your primary feedback mechanism for knowing whether or not Dragon Medical Practice Edition 2 is listening to you. It’s highly recommended to get into the habit of watching the indicator icon, to see whether or not the application is ready to take your voice input. Not only does this help you not waste your time saying things that the program can’t hear, it keeps Dragon Medical from hearing things it doesn’t need to.
What does that mean, you ask? Well, in order for the speech recognition engine to be able to preserve a pristine picture of your voice—and in order to avoid transcribing side conversations with your medical assistant into you document—it’s important that you only have the software microphone on when you, personally, are ready to dictate. This will help protect both your profile recognition accuracy and your documentation.
Consider it this way. If you are inadvertently careless with the microphone, allowing background noise or other voices into the software microphone, Dragon Medical will begin to incorporate this data into your profile. It will then interpret that sound as part of your voice, which will decrease your accuracy noticeably and eventually confuse your acoustic model.
Yet, it’s not just “avoiding the bad” that we’re after here. You will find that, as you dictate with more awareness of whether the software microphone is on or not, you can operate with more aplomb, fewer problems or misrecognitions, and less frustration overall. Instead of getting 17 words into your narrative before looking up and seeing that none of it is on your screen, you’ll remember to place your cursor in the appropriate field and turn on the software microphone.
Once you get into a rhythm, you’ll learn to dictate, pause and turn off the mic, think about what you want to say, and turn it back on. In other words, you’ll find a new, more effective way to work—and you’ll begin to understand just how helpful Dragon Medical Practice Edition 2 can be.
Mechanics of the Software Microphone
Let’s discuss what the basic microphone indicators mean:
On the DragonBar, the volume indicator is that little window to the right of the microphone button. It’s not something you need to monitor constantly, but do be mindful of how much red is showing up, indicating high volume. If you have a lot of red spikes while you’re speaking, and your recognition results are poor, it could be due to distortion.
The software microphone can have three different colors, indicating three different states of operation:
Red– The software microphone is off. Dragon Medical Practice Edition 2 cannot “hear” you at all. It will not respond to any verbal commands, including “wake up.” No dictation is recorded or recognized in this state, either.
Yellow – This is known as sleep mode. The application is listening to you, but it will not accept your dictations, nor will it respond to your commands, unless you ask it to “wake up” or to “listen to me.”
Green – The application is listening to everything coming through the physical microphone, and will either produce text or act in response to what it thinks is a command.
Reviewing Sleep Mode
As mentioned, sleep mode is when the software microphone is listening, but not acting upon your dictation. It might be helpful if you aren’t into pressing buttons, or don’t have a microphone equipped with on/off capabilities. Using a simple voice command, you can pause in the middle of your narrative to have a side conversation, answer a phone call, or move to a different part of the patient chart. We recommend trying sleep mode when documenting a patient encounter in your EMR. See if it doesn’t simplify your life a little bit.
Please note that, in order to use sleep mode, you should configure Dragon Medical to start with the microphone “asleep.” This setting is enabled by clicking Tools > Options > Miscellaneous and checking the box next to “Have the microphone on but asleep.”
Of course, any time the software mic is green/on, you can use the command “go to sleep” to put it in sleep mode.
Best Practices for Using the Software Microphone
In general, there are a few things you want to do when using the software microphone in Dragon Medical Practice Edition 2:
1. Minimize any background noise where you are dictating. As we noted above, not only can this produce poor recognition results, but it can also eventually spoil your voice profile.
2. Make sure that the software microphone is only on when you’re dictating or giving a command. It should otherwise remain off. You don’t want accidental dictation landing in the wrong field of your patient encounter. You can go back and fix it (if you catch the mistake), but we know you want it right the first time.
3. Make sure that your physical microphone and the source you have currently selected in Dragon Medical match. If they do not, you are likely to get poor speech recognition results—and you run the risk of ruining the profile itself.
For more information on profiles and sources in Dragon Medical Practice Edition 2, click here.
4. Do a periodic audio check. From the DragonBar, click Audio > Check microphone. This will ensure that the volume you are speaking at, and the distance you place the microphone at, are properly accounted for.
If you’ve got lots of red in the volume indicator, this is the recommended solution.
5. Don’t let other people speak into your profile. Dragon Medical thinks your voice sounds like you—and you’ll want to keep it that way. Doing otherwise will effectively ruin your profile. One exception is during the audio and quality checks: you may use a stand-in for these without risk of confusing the application.