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Generative AI is coming to the emergency room

Photo by Getty Images

Hello and welcome to Eye on AI.

Stethoscopes, thermometers, and cardiac monitoring machines are go-to technologies in hospital emergency departments—and now you can add generative AI to the list.

Augmedix, a San Francisco-based company that provides AI-powered medical documentation tools, today announced a partnership with Emergency Services Inc. that will bring a version of the company’s technology created specifically for the chaos of the emergency room environment to seven Ohio facilities and over 50 doctors. Using proprietary LLMs as well as Google Cloud’s MedLM’s suite of medically tuned models, Augmedix Go ED is designed to capture conversations between physicians and ER patients via Bluetooth and draft medical notes almost instantaneously. The technology will take over a task previously performed by emergency room doctors as they rushed between patients and, hopefully, curb the administrative overload that’s causing them to quit.

“Clinician burnout is at a record high. The administrative overload that plagues doctors is staggering,” said Eric Drobny, MD, FACEP, CFO of Emergency Services Inc., explaining the problem the medical services group hopes to solve by integrating the technology. According to the 2023 Medscape Physician Burnout and Depression Report, physicians in emergency medicine reported the highest rate of burnout (65%) of all doctors, with most citing bureaucratic demands as the primary cause for burnout. Recent years have also seen a significant drop in applications for previously competitive ER positions.

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Other tools for ambient medical documentation exist, including from Augmedix. Abridge, founded by practicing cardiologist Shiv Rao and valued at $850 million in its last funding round in February, is focused on using generative AI to compose medical notes too. It has signed up a number of major health care systems as customers and now integrates with Epic, one of the major electronic medical record software vendors. Microsoft owns medical scribe software provider Nuance, which is also competing in this space.

But the emergency room environment has unique challenges that some other available solutions aren’t designed to meet. “We cannot use just any documentation solution,” Drobny said, adding that the medical provider has tried out several different approaches—from human scribes to AI scribes that don’t specialize in the emergency departments—in search of a solution, only to run into challenges with each.

“To address the unique and complex needs of the emergency department, documentation solutions need to effectively capture notes amid a significant amount of background noise. Additionally, patient conversations are often complex and involve disparate, nonlinear interactions with multiple clinicians. These challenges do not exist when a patient schedules a regular office visit with their doctor,” Manny Krakaris, CEO of Augmedix, told Eye on AI.

Augmedix Go ED was released in April and underwent a pilot program with HCA Healthcare, which is also expanding the use of the technology following the pilot, according to Augmedix. While the public is still unclear on the benefits of many of the most buzzy AI models, a technology that can lessen the burden on doctors, allowing them to spend more time—and cognitive power—on patient care, has obvious advantages. Augmedix Go, a related product focused on ambulatory care settings, saves up to one hour or more per clinic day, according to Augmedix, which shared the data with Eye on AI but said the study is not yet available online.

Of course, this use of AI is also extremely high-stakes. There’s no margin for error in life-or-death situations. Additionally, medical facilities deal with some of the most sensitive PII (personally identifiable information) and thus have additional responsibility and strict security and governance requirements for their data. Krakaris said Augmedix is HIPAA compliant and is committed to adopting the most rigorous measures to protect patient data.

Generative AI is still very new, and there are a lot of kinks to work out. Still, Drobny believes “the benefits of Augmedix Go ED will largely outweigh everything else” and deliver accurate medical notes faster than the doctors ever could.

And with that, here’s more AI news.

Sage Lazzaro
sage.lazzaro@consultant.fortune.com
sagelazzaro.com

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

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