Microsoft’s OpenAI-based app is coming to Epic Programs

A sign for Microsoft Corp. at the company’s offices in the central business district of Lisbon, Portugal, December 27, 2022.

Zed Jameson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Microsoft’s speech recognition subsidiary Nuance Communications announced on Tuesday that its artificial intelligence-based clinical note-taking application is coming to Epic Systems to reduce the administrative burden for physicians.

Epic is a healthcare software company that helps hospitals and other healthcare systems store, share, and access electronic healthcare records. More than 500,000 physicians and 306 million patients around the world use Epic’s offerings, and the company has long-standing partnerships with both Microsoft and Nuance.

The companies are working together to develop a system that can handle many of the administrative back-end tasks of physicians. Nuance told CNBC on Tuesday that integrating its latest solution, Dragon Ambient eXperience Express, with Epic is a “big step” toward that goal.

DAX Express automatically generates a draft clinical note within seconds of a patient visit. It can record a real-time conversation between a doctor and a patient and create a note using a combination of existing AI and OpenAI’s latest model, GPT-4.

“I think what’s magical about it is that the note doesn’t take an hour, it takes seconds,” Garrett Adams, product director for Epic’s ambulance division, said in an interview with CNBC on Tuesday. “While it would have taken a lot longer to type it in by hand, now they get it better, faster, and with a level of convenience that wasn’t even really imaginable a decade ago.”

Nuance, which Microsoft acquired for around $16 billion in 2021, sells tools to recognize and transcribe speech used in doctor visits, customer service calls and voicemails. The company first announced its DAX Express solution in March and said in a press release on Tuesday that the technology saves doctors about seven minutes per patient contact.

Many doctors and nurses in the US struggle to keep up with the stress of office work, making this time a valuable healthcare asset.

A 2016 study funded by the American Medical Association found that for every hour a doctor spent with a patient, doctors spent an additional two hours on administrative tasks. The study also notes that physicians tend to spend an extra hour or two in addition to office work outside of work hours, which many refer to as “slumber time.”

“The last thing they want to do is slumber time,” Peter Durlach, Nuance’s chief strategy officer, said in an interview with CNBC on Tuesday. Adams added that Nuance’s technology will also allow physicians to be more present during patient consultations.

“The doctor can sit and really focus on what the patient is saying without thinking about all the other things they need to keep an eye on,” he said. “The patient feels a lot more connected and is being listened to a lot more.”

Nuance has strict data agreements with its customers so patient data is fully encrypted and runs in HIPAA compliant environments.

DAX Express for Epic will be available in private preview for select users this summer, and Durlach said the company hopes to expand to general availability in Q1 2024.

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