Microsoft and Epic Partner To Expand Gen AI to Battle Healthcare Shortage

Microsoft and medical technology firm Epic announced on Tuesday a new collaboration to further incorporate generative AI technologies in the healthcare industry.

The move aims to combine "Microsoft's large-scale cloud and AI technologies with Epic's deep understanding of the healthcare industry and clinical workflows to address many current issues affecting clinicians," according to an announcement made by Microsoft's Eric Boyd, Corporate Vice President, AI Platform.

The goal is to improve and streamline clinicians' workloads to combat "workforce burnout to staffing shortages," which Microsoft accounts as some of the biggest issues currently facing the industry. According to Boyd, the U.S. will see a 90,000 physician shortage by 2025, and half of all those currently working currently experience work-related burnout.

The two companies will work to integrate Microsoft's ongoing AI research with Epic's electronic health record (EHR) ecosystem to provide health experts with on-demand clinical insights and administrative tools, which will, in turn, reduce the daily stress of practitioners.

Boyd highlighted some of the enhancements that the partnership has created:

  • Enhancing clinician productivity with note summarization: Building on the previously announced AI-assisted Epic In Basket, the new solutions are targeted at increasing clinical efficiency for physicians and nurses, helping them become more productive in their daily clinical workflow. The solutions will help support faster documentation through suggested text and rapid review with in-context summaries.
  • Enhancing clinician productivity with embedded ambient clinical documentation: Leveraging Nuance’s Dragon Ambient eXperience (DAX) technology, which is already deployed with hundreds of Epic customers and currently supporting thousands of physicians, Epic will showcase this DAX Express AI technology embedded into the native Epic Hyperdrive platform and Haiku mobile application, further enhancing a seamless workflow experience for users. In addition, Nuance has been named by Epic as one of the first Partners in Epic’s Partner and Pals third-party vendor program.
  • Driving administrative efficiencies through reduction in manual, labor intensive processes: Revenue cycle management is one of many areas where generative AI can meaningfully improve efficiency. For example, Epic will demonstrate an AI-powered solution that provides medical coding staff with suggestions based on clinical documentation in the EHR to improve accuracy and streamline the entire coding and billing processes.
  • Advancing medicine for better patient outcomes: By using Azure OpenAI Service, Epic is now delivering generative AI exploration for an initial set of users via SlicerDicer to fill gaps in clinical evidence using real-world data and to study rare diseases and more.

Tuesday's announcement builds upon recent collaborations between the two companies, such as the integration of Azure OpenAI Service into Epic’s EHR for automated message responses and natural language queries in Epic's self-service reporting tool, SlicerDicer.

"Together, we are bringing generative AI to healthcare at scale as quickly as possible, responsibly and in partnership with providers, in order to address the ongoing issues affecting healthcare," said Boyd.

About the Author

Chris Paoli (@ChrisPaoli5) is the associate editor for Converge360.

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