Can Artificial Intelligence Cut Docs’ Paperwork Burden?

The odds are good that doctors didn’t get into medicine so they could spend half their days, or more, writing chart notes. But that is the life of most physicians: half of their average workdays are spent entering data into EHRs and conducting clerical work, while only 27 percent is spent with patients.

However, there is help on the horizon—or even closer. In the future, AI will be able to help cut back on medical administration and free up the valuable time of doctors. There are even some solutions currently being put to work.

Augmedix, for example, is harnessing the power of Google Glass to make health care more patient-centric and decrease the amount of paperwork doctors need to do. It does this by providing remote scribes who can hear what’s going on in the exam room and take chart notes while the doctor is working with a patient.

Voice assistants such as those provided by Nuance and M*Modal provide software-based dictation services to physicians. Notable launched a wearable voice-powered assistant in May 2018; the product is designed to help doctors capture data during interactions with patients.

Amazon Web Services recently announced a cloud-based service that uses artificial intelligence to extract and index data from clinical notes. AthenaHealth uses AI to categorize unstructured fax messages, which in 2017 resulted in the elimination of more than 3 million hours of work from the health care system.

Nuance Communications offers a software called Dragon Medical One, which it claims can help health care providers record patient medical experiences using natural language processing. Linguamatics offers to help health care companies organize their EHR data repositories for finding important information by using natural language processing.

There are even smart versions of common clinical tools like blood pressure cuffs, scales, and thermometers, which can automatically record readings into the patient record.

With AI growing steadily more common and powerful, the future could even include “cognitive assistants” that would listen during every appointment, record every useful bit of information immediately, and update the patient’s medical record.

When potential medical students see a future like that—where they can actually be doctors rather than data entry clerks thanks to tools offered by Augmedix and the other companies in this article—the field of medicine could become much more exciting.

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