St Petersburg University students develop programme to fill out medical documentation by voice

The finalists of the SPbU Start-up 2022 contest have created a system where you can fill out medical records, forms, and other documents using your voice.

A standard doctor’s appointment is usually limited to 10 to 15 minutes. During that time, the doctor has to listen to the patient, conduct an examination, diagnose the case, and enter these data into the patient’s medical record. The latter procedure is mandatory, and for every mistake in medical records and forms, medical workers are personally responsible. At the same time, the average typing speed is no more than 80 words per minute. As a result, it can be extremely difficult for medical specialists to keep within the time frame.

The idea to create a voice assistant for doctors appeared even before the Start-up contest. It was practically in the air: other participants in our project were also thinking about this issue.

Vladislav Evtushenko, Captain of DoctorScript team

‘I have had two different experiences with doctor’s appointments: either after an appointment I had to wait until the doctor filled out all the necessary documents, or the doctor was focused on filling out the forms, and the only answer to all my questions about the results of the examination was: "I will write everything to you",’ shared Vladislav Evtushenko, Captain of DoctorScript team.

According to the authors of the project, when the work on the programme is completed, it will automatically fill out a medical card instead of a doctor. During the appointment, the doctor will only have to confirm that everything is written down correctly, and make adjustments if necessary. ‘At this stage, we have an algorithm that recognises the dialogue between the doctor and the patient, and then displays it on the computer screen. Then you can simply copy the text without entering any new information,’ explained Vladislav Evtushenko.

The programme consists of two modules. The first one is responsible for converting speech into text: for example, the voice message recognition on the social network Vkontakte works that way. The second module is responsible for interpreting the text by a computer (like the virtual assistant Alice).

Initially, the finalists of the contest planned to create two programmes: a mobile application for voice recording, and a web application for displaying the results. However, with the sanctions that affected the operation of mobile app markets, the entrepreneurs decided to move away from the idea of creating a mobile application, replacing it with a voice recording programme in a web version adapted for a smartphone.

The team members note that they have already had experience related to the implementation of such projects. Vladislav Evtushenko, Captain of DoctorScript team, has been working for IT companies for about five years, and knows how the typical stages of product creation are organised in IT companies: drafting requirements, prioritising tasks, writing the code, creating the design, and testing and releasing new versions of the programme.

The contestants are already thinking about expanding the functions of the web programme. One of them is the analysis of the data collected during the reception. With its help, it will be possible to evaluate the quality of a doctor’s work, analyse the behaviour of patients during an appointment, or collect statistics on the frequency of certain complaints.

The research supervisor of the team is Anastasiia Goncharova, Candidate of Physics and Mathematics, Associate Professor in the Department of Control Systems Theory for Electrophysical Facilities of St Petersburg University. She noted that the project implementation process was not simple for the team.

The annual contest of interdisciplinary projects the SPbU Start-up 2022, which is organised with the support of the Endowment Fund of St Petersburg University, takes place for the seventh time this year. Winners of the contest receive cash prizes: 350,000 roubles for the first place, 250,000 roubles for the second, and 150,000 roubles for the third. In addition, two small innovative enterprises established together with the University on the basis of winning projects will receive two grants from the Endowment Fund of St Petersburg University to develop their companies: 1,000,000 roubles and 700,000 roubles.

‘Any implemented idea is labour, and the words "labour" and "laborious" have the same root. The students acted like real specialists: it is especially worth noting the work of the team captain Vladislav Evtushenko, who did not give up hope to implement the project, united the team, offered the right ideas and competently organised the work, despite all the difficulties. Doctors really are in need of such a system of assistance, and sooner or later it will be implemented in practice. I hope the experience of working in the Start-up team will be a good start for students in their future careers.’

The programme has not been tested in hospitals yet, but the developers have tested it on the records of the medical card that doctors give to patients. Vladislav Evtushenko described how the testing was carried out: ‘I took my statements, and also asked friends and acquaintances. Reading them aloud, I watched the results. In addition, Mikhail, my teammate, wrote several real scenarios, in which there was a complete set of replicas of the doctor and the patient.’

DoctorScript team includes the following students:

  • Vladislav Evtushenko, Captain of DoctorScript team, a second-year master’s student in the Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Control Processes
  • Nikita Babich, a third-year bachelor’s student in the Mathematics and Mechanics Faculty
  • Inga Kuzina, a second-year master’s student in the Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Control Processes
  • Mikhail Romanov, a fifth-year student in the Faculty of Medicine
  • Aleksandra Bagaeva, a second-year bachelor’s student in the Graduate School of Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Anastasiia Goncharova, Research Supervisor of the team, Candidate of Physics and Mathematics, Associate Professor in the Department of Control Systems Theory for Electrophysical Facilities

The team has already organised interaction with the staff of hospitals and other medical institutions, who showed interest in the development and offered to test the programme on their basis.

The material was prepared with the participation of St Petersburg University students.