Public understanding of medical terms more than five times higher with Lexacom

Public understanding of medical terms is more than five times higher with Lexacom
Understanding of medical terms is more than five times higher with Lexacom, according to a recent YouGov survey of UK adults. 

General knowledge of medical terms and phrases

Within the general public there is some understanding of medical terms, benign and anti-inflammatory, for example. Commonly used medical phrases people come across in newspapers, and when watching television.

Through life experience, many people will also be familiar with other terms, perhaps angina, or hypotension, as conditions that occur relatively frequently affect friends and family.

What happens though, when it comes to language so often used in general practice, but unheard of to most people? With the advent of the Citizen Access programme, patients are being exposed to unfamiliar terms; entirely normal diagnoses now have the potential to cause concern, and misunderstanding terms used in notes can be incredibly worrying for patients.

The Citizen Access programme is being rolled out as general practitioners work through extraordinarily busy times and face increasingly strained relationships with patients. Further, there is the potential burden on practice staff of patients getting in touch for explanations of their notes.


A patient and family member in a GP consultation


The importance of health literacy

Health literacy is an increasing concern for public health. A surprising amount of the general population don’t have the understanding to make decisions about their health, which creates health inequalities.

People with better health literacy have better health: lower rates of admission into emergency care, better abilities to communicate with healthcare professionals and, starkly, half the rates of poor health.

With knowledge, patients gain confidence in making decisions about their own wellbeing, and also the wellbeing of those they care for. Confidence also increases in using healthcare systems, and the professionals they interact with.

Communicating effectively improves health literacy, and a key part of successful communication between patients and clinical staff is using easy-to-understand language.

How Comprehension Engine® helps patients understand

Lexacom has developed Comprehension Engine®, truly revolutionary technology that powers our speech recognition software, Lexacom Echo.

With no extra effort from a clinician, Comprehension Engine® uses an NHS specific medical dictionary to recognise and define medical terms in plain English:

  • apyrexial becomes apyrexial (did not have a high temperature)
  • cardiomegaly becomes cardiomegaly (enlarged heart)
  • hepatomegaly becomes hepatomegaly (enlarged liver)

Our dictionary covers hundreds of medical terms, each giving patients a better understanding of their conditions when viewing their notes in the NHS app.


A clinician making patient notes


The survey

2078 respondents were asked to imagine they were reading notes taken by their GP following a doctor’s appointment. To show how well Comprehension Engine® helps patients understand, four different medical terms were tested, all undoubtedly unfamiliar to the general public. Half of the respondents were given plain notes (a) and asked what they meant. Half of the respondents were given the same notes: but dictated with Lexacom Echo (b).

(a) The original notes read:

The patient has tachypnoea and dyspnoea with significant miosis and epiphora.

(b) When a clinician dictates or types these notes using Lexacom Echo, the notes read:

The patient has tachypnoea (rapid, shallow breathing) and dyspnoea (shortness of breath) with significant miosis (pinpoint pupils) and epiphora (watering eyes).

Each set of respondents then selected what they thought the notes meant.

Lexacom Echo medical speech recognition

The results

The respondents were weighted to be representative of all UK adults, and the results were undeniable: when presented with unfamiliar medical terms, more than five times as many people understood their notes with Lexacom.

When using Lexacom Echo speech recognition, medical terms are explained to patients in language they understand – with no extra effort from clinicians.

Effective communication, increasing patient confidence, and improving doctor-patient relationships.

YouGov survey results

Find out more

Lexacom Echo is the only speech recognition software able to recognise medical terms and add explanations for patients. Bring this technology to your practice, and empower your patients.

Book a demonstration today, and see Lexacom Echo’s capabilities first-hand.

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All figures, are from YouGov Plc. YouGov is a neutral and independent organisation. Clients have no influence on the data collected or the results that are produced.

Total sample size was 2,078 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken in March 2023. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).