Conversational interfaces and speech recognition capabilities are being increasingly used to create more natural and intuitive user interaction with digital technology. While voice-activated technologies have been used to support clinical documentation, their use for reporting patient safety incidents has not been previously investigated. The purpose of this paper is to assess the technical feasibility of an application for reporting incidents that combines a conversational interface with speech recognition software, and to undertake a pilot study of its usability. We built a prototype finite state-based application where incidents involving digital health technologies could be reported by answering five questions about the task being performed, the response of the software and the outcome of the clinical situation. Pilot tests showed that the conversational interface was usable. However, participants expressed concerns with speaking out loud about sensitive patient safety and quality improvement issues, including human error and system failures, in busy clinical environments. Further work is required to identify the clinical contexts in which conversational interfaces can be used to support incident reporting.
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