A.I. May Someday Work Medical Miracles. For Now, It Helps Do Paperwork.

“At this stage, we have to pick our use cases carefully,” said Dr. John Halamka, president of Mayo Clinic Platform, who oversees the health system’s adoption of artificial intelligence. “Reducing the documentation burden would be a huge win on its own.”

Recent studies show that doctors and nurses report high levels of burnout, prompting many to leave the profession. High on the list of complaints, especially for primary care physicians, is the time spent on documentation for electronic health records. That work often spills over into the evenings, after-office-hours toil that doctors refer to as “pajama time.”

Generative A.I., experts say, looks like a promising weapon to combat the physician workload crisis.

“This technology is rapidly improving at a time health care needs help,” said Dr. Adam Landman, chief information officer of Mass General Brigham, which includes Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

For years, doctors have used various kinds of documentation assistance, including speech recognition software and human transcribers. But the latest A.I. is doing far more: summarizing, organizing and tagging the conversation between a doctor and a patient.

Companies developing this kind of technology include Abridge, Ambience Healthcare, Augmedix, Nuance, which is part of Microsoft, and Suki.

Ten physicians at the University of Kansas Medical Center have been using generative A.I. software for the last two months, said Dr. Gregory Ator, an ear, nose and throat specialist and the center’s chief medical informatics officer. The medical center plans to eventually make the software available to its 2,200 physicians.

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