2021: The Year Artificial Intelligence and the Electronic Health Record Finally Help Clinicians Save Time by Dr. Davin Lundquist

Posted by Davin Lundquist, MD on 2.23.2021

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been hailed as a boon to efficiency for note-taking, documentation, and electronic health record (EHR) administration — though few clinicians would agree reality has measured up to the rosy predictions.

Instead, unfortunately, both technologies have revealed their shortcomings and inefficiencies, particularly in voice recognition, vocabulary, and time savings.

As a clinician, I have first-hand knowledge of these technologies. And as the Chief Medical Officer at Augmedix, I am witness to how Augmedix is rapidly developing and delivering innovative services that are unlocking the potential in these technologies.

AI + Human Pairing, The Best of All Worlds

The Augmedix proprietary Notebuilder automation technology, an AI-enabled platform, leverages a significantly different approach: rather than trying to replace humans, our goal is to assist them.

Amplified AI is a practical approach that can provide a cost-effective, accurate documentation service for clinicians, unlike narrow AI-driven technology that can be limited in its capabilities, making it a less than ideal solution in a medical context.

Amplified AI is created by pairing technology with virtual scribes who are highly vetted and trained to leverage the Augmedix proprietary technology for note creation.

What Amplified AI Technology Looks Like

A clinic visit is live streamed to an Augmedix scribe through smartphones or Google Glass incorporating automation technology, including speech-to-text software and natural-language-processing modules.

The remote scribes are then able to generate accurate and structured EHR notes as the clinician-patient conversation occurs in real time. Clinicians don’t need to alter their workflow by dictating word-for-word or speaking “wake words” because the scribes are capturing the visit through natural conversation, and creating a summary of the clinically relevant content.

With meticulous training in 35 specialties and additional sub-specialties, the scribes rapidly become a valuable addition to each patient’s care team. A rural hospital system, Kittitas Valley Healthcare in the heart of Washington state, was able to go live and get into a comfortable routine with Augmedix virtual scribes in just a few weeks, compared to 6 to 8 months with its live scribe experience.

One Clinician’s Experience

Dr. David DeMarco at Blue Ash Family Practice says that knowing someone is capturing the notes gives him the peace of mind to place his full attention on the patient, which allows him to ask better questions. With some of the notes generated by the scribes, he shared, “I can’t tell the difference between what I would have written and what they wrote.”

The support from his virtual scribe saves enough time to add two patients a day that he wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise. “I don’t do work on weekends anymore. I don’t have to. It’s all done by the end of my day on Friday. And I don’t do work in the evenings.” Work life balance is the key to ensuring patient satisfaction.

Optimism in 2021

In spite of the challenges in 2020, I see good things this year, including patients and clinicians continuing to embrace the convenience and safety of telemedicine. Clinicians will instinctively incorporate remote assistants into their daily routine, and leading-edge companies such as Augmedix will continue to develop innovative solutions to empower clinicians to practice medicine better.

Davin R Lundquist, MD Family Medicine, is affiliated with Dignity Health, California. He serves as Augmedix Chief Medical Officer.