- Epic and Microsoft announced on Tuesday an expanded collaboration focused on integrating generative artificial intelligence tools in the vendor’s electronic health records system.
- The partners are working to “rapidly deploy dozens” of AI technologies, including clinical note summarization, medical coding suggestions and data exploration tools that aim to fill gaps in clinical evidence by using real-world data.
- The expanded partnership is intended to speed the development of AI tools in healthcare, bringing the technology as “quickly as possible, responsibly and in partnership with providers,” according to a blog post by Eric Boyd, corporate vice president of AI platform at Microsoft.
Generative AI, which uses algorithms to create content like text or images, has become a hot topic in healthcare with proponents arguing it could cut down on administrative work for overburdened healthcare workers.
One study from 2017 found primary care doctors spent more than half their workdays on tasks in EHRs, like taking notes on patient visits, entering orders, billing and coding, and system security. Other research found EHRs may fuel healthcare burnout, with surveyed clinicians saying they felt pressure to complete documentation.
But experts have raised concerns about potential risks of generative AI, noting the technology can make mistakes and perpetuate biases. Healthcare leaders should plan ahead if they’re going to use these tools, assessing their tech stacks and considering bias and privacy protection in advance, according to a July report from consulting firm McKinsey.
The plan to accelerate generative AI in healthcare builds on Epic and Microsoft’s previous initiatives, the companies said in a blog.
In April, the EHR vendor and technology giant announced it would integrate Microsoft’s OpenAI Service service into Epic. One of the tools would help automatically draft responses to messages from patients, and the partnership also aimed to add interactive data analysis and natural language query capabilities to Epic’s self-reporting tool, SlicerDicer.
Earlier this summer, Microsoft-owned Nuance and Epic said they would integrate Nuance’s DAX Express, which listens, transcribes and auto-populates doctor-patient conversations into the medical record. In the latest announcement, the partners said the technology has already been deployed with “hundreds of Epic customers and currently supporting thousands of physicians.”
Nuance was also named one of the first Partners in Epic’s new third-party developer programs. Last week, startup Abridge said it would integrate its AI documentation tools with the EHR.