A TEXT-TO-SPEECH SYSTEM FOR CONTINUOUS MEDICAL EDUCATION

V. Dimov 1*, K. Uzunova-Dimova 2, A. Kumar 1, S. Randhawa 3 ,1 Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44195, U.S.A, 2 Private practice, Cleveland, OH 44140, U.S.A., 3 Private practice, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308, U.S.A.


Purpose

A text-to-speech (TTS) system converts any electronic text into into speech using a computer algorithm. Audio files created by the TTS system can be transferred to a compact disc or an audio player making them portable and available on demand. Most physicians are very busy professionals which makes finding time for continuous medical education difficult. We describe the use of aTTS system to convert the electronic text of any medical journal article or a textbook into a portable audio file.

Methods
Authors used a TTS program (2nd Speech Center, $25) to successfully convert electronic text from medical journals article and textbooks into audio files. Conversion required simple copying and pasting of the text into the window of theTTS program and clicking the "create MP3" button. The audio files were then transferred to MP3 players (iPod from Apple, Inc.) and used by authors when commuting to and from work and during their daily exercise programs.

Results
A text-to-speech system used to convert electronic text into portable audio files was perceived as very useful by its users and it has been in a continuous operation for more than a year.

Conclusion
A text-to-speech system which creates portable audio files (podcasts) from journal articles (or any electronic text) may be a convenient way to enhance continuous medical education for health professionals. This didactic approach deserves further investigation.