- Microsoft and major electronic health vendor Epic announced Monday that the two companies are expanding their partnership and integrating Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service into Epic’s EHR software.
- The integration hinges on generative AI-powered tools, according to the announcement, to increase productivity and enhance patient care. One of the integration’s tools, which helps automatically draft message responses, is being implemented at UC San Diego Health, UW Health and Stanford Health Care, according to the companies.
- Microsoft has been focused on enhancing its medical AI capabilities recently, with the company announcing last month that Microsoft-owned Nuance was integrating GPT-4, OpenAI’s latest large language model technology, into its clinical notetaking software.
In addition to tools aimed at automatically drafting message responses, the partnership aims to bring interactive data analysis and natural language query capabilities to Epic’s self-reporting tool, SlicerDicer.
“Our exploration of OpenAI’s GPT-4 has shown the potential to increase the power and accessibility of self-service reporting through SlicerDicer, making it easier for healthcare organizations to identify operational improvements, including ways to reduce costs and to find answers to questions locally and in a broader context,” said Seth Hain, senior vice president of research and development at Epic, in a statement.
The two companies have partnered before, with an existing partnership allowing Epic environments to run on the Azure cloud platform. During the COVID-19 pandemic, in September 2020, Epic and Microsoft announced they were partnering to integrate Microsoft-owned messaging app, Teams, directly with health records to allow clinicians to launch virtual visits from their EHR.
Technology companies have been focusing on AI healthcare integrations this year as hospital systems report depressed financial margins and labor woes exacerbated by the pandemic. Technology integrations like EHRs have promised to help ease documentation burden, and burnout, but can sometimes create “information overload” for clinicians.
AI integrations promise to alleviate burnout by automating certain tasks, but integration in the sector has been slow moving so far.
However, tech companies have been ramping up their healthcare AI integration efforts this year. Stat News reported last week that Google was releasing a version of its generative language model to healthcare customers to test task abilities in certain research and medical settings, setting up a rivalry with GPT-4. Also last week, EHR company Cerner announced that it and another company were developing AI tools to help the FDA extract information from clinical notes in health records to better understand the effects of medicines on large populations.