Apr 29, 2024 - News

OhioHealth embracing AI bots in the doctor's office

Illustration of a robot in a lab coat with a stethoscope.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Your doctor's new assistant may be an AI bot.

The big picture: Artificial intelligence applications are already at work in exam rooms across Ohio, generating notes for doctors' visits with patients.

  • Providers say it's saving them time, reducing burnout and allowing them to focus more on patients and less on note-taking during visits.

Why it matters: It's among the first in a long list of ways AI is likely to be used in medical offices in the coming years.

Zoom in: OhioHealth rolled out the technology in its primary care practices earlier this year.

  • At this point about 100 practitioners use it, per the health system.

How it works: The software, DAX Copilot, is produced by Microsoft AI subsidiary Nuance. It promises "AI-automated clinical notes in seconds."

  • At OhioHealth, practitioners start by getting their patient's permission to use the program to record the visit.
  • If they agree (and most do, per the health system) the provider fires up the app and records the visit. At the end, a first draft of notes is waiting for them to review and make any necessary corrections.

What they're saying: Drafts the software creates aren't always perfect, but the early reviews are overwhelmingly positive.

  • "We have definitely seen a trend toward decreasing what we call pajama time — that time at night when you're finishing up documentation and other administrative work," says Andrew Narcelles, a family medicine physician at OhioHealth who is overseeing the rollout.

Zoom out: Artificial intelligence has been a major focus in the health care industry, per Axios Pro's Erin Brodwin and Aaron Weitzman. Other promising use cases include:

  • Alerting providers to patients who may need a higher level of care.
  • Honing communication between patients and providers.
  • And streamlining medical approval processes such as prior authorization.

What we're watching: The industry's experiments with AI haven't all been positive.

  • For example, an investigation by health news site STAT found Medicare Advantage plans using AI algorithms to cut off care for seniors.
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