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“I see language as a key element in bridging the distance between doctor and patient,” said Dr Markus Vogel, Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) at Microsoft Germany, as he introduced Microsoft’s European Healthcare Media Meet-Up in Berlin last April. During the event, a study conducted by Microsoft and Nuance was presented that sheds light on the impact of AI on medical documentation and the doctor-patient relationship in Germany and Europe, Miriam Mirza reports.

The study shows how AI-based documentation enables doctors to focus more on their patients. This in turn promotes patient trust and well-being and could also reduce treatment costs. 

Patients want more AI

One finding was that medical staff often feel overworked due to a shortage of specialists and an increasing documentation burden, which affects the quality of patient care. An AI-supported solution could help reduce these burdens by automating documentation and giving doctors more time for patient interaction, Vogel concluded. He also pointed to the finding that many patients recognize the value of AI-based documentation solutions and welcome them. Around 40 percent of patients surveyed in Germany are in favor of using AI to support their care.

The study is based on surveys of 13,500 patients from eleven countries, including Germany, and highlights the need to further develop digital technologies to improve doctor-patient interaction and reduce the workload of medical staff.

Dr Markus Vogel

First rollout in Hanover

Up to now, people in hospitals have generally been busy typing away at their keyboards during patient consultations. Doctors are often more occupied with their computers than with patients. Barbara Nayeb wants to change this situation at Klinikum Region Hannover. As IT project manager for hospital digitization, she is currently overseeing the implementation of Dragon Medical at the hospital. The AI-based speech recognition software for documenting care and treatment services was developed by Nuance. The software is used via smartphone and desktop with a microphone.

The rollout began in Hanover in the middle of last year. Now the move to the cloud is planned. “For this to work well, we also have to get the employees on board,” explained Steffen Grebner, Head of Central IT and Procurement Management at KRH Klinikum Region Hannover. So far, however, this has worked quite well – the solution has been well received by medical staff and patients alike. “Not only do the doctors have more time for their patients, but it also pays off financially, as more detailed documentation means more services can be billed,” summarizes Nayeb.

Peggy Séjourné

Doctors are quick to adopt good tools

Peggy Séjourné is Chief Operating Officer of the French start-up Milvue, which specializes in providing technical care solutions, particularly in radiology. The company uses deep learning to help radiologists make faster diagnoses, better manage patient workflows and focus on patients more efficiently. An important step in this direction is the establishment of AI solutions for medical imaging and automated medical reporting. “AI empowers radiologists to do what they are experts at – deciding what’s best for their patients,” Séjourné said. She reported that in her experience, doctors in diagnostics switch from a “doctor first, AI second” to an “AI first, doctor second” approach after a short time if the tools are good enough and have earned the trust of the practitioners.

Dr. Jeffrey Cleveland, specialist in pediatrics and Chief Medical Information Officer at Atrium Health, demonstrated how the use of AI could continue in Germany. Atrium Health is a US hospital network. The “DAX Copilot” is used in the hospitals. The solution securely creates clinical notes by recording in-office and telemedicine patient visits directly into Haiku, Epic’s mobile application, with the patient’s consent, and creates a draft note for immediate physician review and completion. The system is fully integrated with Epic’s electronic health record (EHR).

Dr Jeffrey Cleveland, Steffen Grebner and Dr Markus Vogel

Voice-activated documentation solutions are likely to become more and more prevalent in healthcare facilities in the future. In this case, the necessary change management is a good starting point, because the advantages for doctors are obvious: the unpleasant paperwork is taken over by AI and they can devote more time to their patients.