Dictation system capable of processing audio information at...

Dynamic information storage or retrieval – Information location or remote operator actuated control – Dictation or transcribing

Reexamination Certificate

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Reexamination Certificate




1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates generally to a method and apparatus for collecting and preserving data. More particularly the invention concerns a method and apparatus for collecting and preserving medical information obtained by a physician using a personal medical dictator device and then preserving the data through the use of a novel dictation receiver apparatus.
2. Discussion of the Prior Art
Several devices have been suggested in the past for recording and preserving audio data. The most common of these devices is the conventional dictation recording device that records a user's dictation on a magnetic tape. The so-called prior art tape recorder reproduces the dictation by reading the recorded signal from the magnetic tape and preparing an electric signal representative of the recorded dictation. After the dictation is recorded, the user typically provides the magnetic tape to a typist who prepares a type written transcript. This is done by inserting the magnetic tape into a tape playing device which includes means for generating an acoustic reproduction of the dictation recorded on the magnetic tape. While listening to the reproduction of the dictation, the typist types a transcript of the dictation on the keyboard of a typewriter or word processing device.
In the past many physicians have made rather wide use of both hand-held and desk-mounted dictation devices to record their activities. The physician's description of interactions with patients whether in the office, in the hospital or in the operating room, are vital to the delivery of quality health care. Furthermore, documentation by the doctor is mandatory for legal purposes, to meet demands of regulatory bodies, and for effective business practices, including efficient billing, contractual compliance and the like. The permanent records of the physician's activities that are produced are typically kept in the medical record or “chart” of the patient.
When tape recorders are not used by the physician to record day-to-day activities, records are sometimes handwritten. On occasion the physician will also use a telephone to dictate notes to a remote receiving unit, usually located at a transcription location. At the transcription location a medical secretary or other typist transcribes the doctors spoken notes into text using a typewriter or word processor. The typed dictation is then placed in the medical record.
In other instances, the physician may use a hand-held digital recorder and electronically transfer the dictation directly to a personal computer. Several different types of digital recorders and the computer software to operably connect them to a personal computer are readily commercially available.
Each of the foregoing prior art techniques has its drawbacks. For example, when either a hand-held or desk-mounted tape recorder is used, the magnetic tape onto which the dictation is stored must be physically acquired and inserted into the recorder and then removed when the dictation is complete. The tape must then be physically delivered to the transcription location. During this process the tape can be lost, damaged, or recorded over prior to transcription resulting in the loss of crucial data. When using the tape recorder, access to prior dictation on the magnetic tape, or access to an earlier portion of the current dictation is slow and inconvenient because the tape must be physically rewound to the desired location.
With respect to telephone dictation, the physician must, of course, be in proximity to a telephone and the telephone must be available for use. If the telephone is not immediately accessible by the physician, time is lost in walking to the telephone and if the telephone is in use by another person, additional valuable time can be lost waiting for access to the telephone. In using the telephone to dictate medical records, the physician must dial the transcription location telephone number which may involve as much as a 12 digit number. Additionally, the physician must remember, or look up which numerical keys on the telephone are to be used to perform typical dictation functions. Once the transcription location is dialed, the physician must wait for the remote receiving unit to answer before dictation can commence. After the dictation unit answers, the physician must wait for instructions from the answering unit and then perform manual operations as directed as, for example, keying in the report type and the patient's record number. Finally, on each occasion, the physician must key in information that is constant as, for example, the physician's identification number and other data which does not change for a series of particular patients. All of these actions involve wasted motion and wasted time.
Problems concerning the use of prior art, hand-held digital recorders include the fact that most commercially available digital dictation devices are designed for general-purpose use and, therefore, have unnecessary keys and functions that complicate their use for medical dictation. Additionally, presently available digital recording devices require that a physical connection be made for re-charging and for data transmission from the recording device to a receiving device, such as a personal computer that is necessarily located in the immediate vicinity of the digital recorder. Finally, existing digital recording devices require that a computer program be run on the receiving computer in order for the dictation to be transferred from the device into the memory of the computer so that the transcription activity can be performed.
One example of the aforementioned type of prior art voice recording system is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,389,220 issued to Barker. The Barker system includes a portable voice recording device having a microphone for generating an electrical signal representative of an acoustic speech signal. An analog to digital converter receives the electric signal from the microphone and generates a digital memory signal representative of the electric signal. A memory device stores the digital memory signal. In response to a user's request, a digital to analog converter converts the memory signal to an analog electrical signal which drives a loud-speaker to generate an acoustic reproduction of the original speech signal. Somewhat similar Barker dictation recording devices are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,548,566 and 5,818,800 also issued to Barker. While the Barker systems represent significant advance in the art, to effect the transfer of the dictation from the recording device of the receiving machine, the user must still be somehow “tethered” to a personal computer. Also, manual processes, such as installation and operation of receiving software, are required
As will be better understood from the discussion which follows, a primary object of the present invention is to overcome the drawbacks of the prior art data recording and preservation systems as described in the preceding paragraphs by providing a simple, easy to use and highly efficient personal medical dictation system that facilitates the recording of the physician's dictation and the subsequent automatic transmittal of that dictation without effort on the part of the physician to a non-contiguous central location from which transcription quickly and efficiently can take place.
By way of summary the personal dictation system of the present invention comprises two cooperating devices that facilitate the recording of a physician's dictation and the subsequent transmittal of the dictation to a remotely located central location at which transcription of the recorded data can take place. The “capturing” component of the system, or “Personal Medical Dictator” (PMD) comprises a specially designed, compact, and hand-held, portable, battery-powered unit that can be carried in a pocket or worn on the belt. The “transmission” component or Dictation Receiver (DR) comprises a countertop or wall mounted receptacle or docking st


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