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Epic and Microsoft expand AI partnership to ‘address healthcare’s most pressing needs’

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Microsoft and healthcare technology company Epic today announced an expanded partnership to integrate conversational, ambient, and generative AI technologies. The collaboration will focus on Epic’s electronic health record (EHR) system.

In April, two companies initially collaborated to use generative AI for better electronic health records. And now, they plan to rapidly deploy dozens of AI-powered solutions within Epic’s health systems. The companies aim to address critical healthcare needs like “workforce burnout to staffing shortages.”

New capabilities powered by Microsoft Azure and its AI services will be highlighted at Epic’s annual User Group Meeting. These include note summarization to boost clinical productivity, ambient clinical documentation embedded in Epic’s mobile app, and AI coding suggestions to streamline revenue cycle management.

This collaboration mainly focuses on the following:

  • Enhancing clinician productivity with note summarization
  • Enhancing clinician productivity with embedded ambient clinical documentation
  • Driving administrative efficiencies through reduction in manual, labor intensive processes
  • Advancing medicine for better patient outcomes

Epic will also showcase exploratory uses of generative AI from Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI service. Initial benefits include filling evidence gaps using real-world data and studying rare diseases.

The companies aim to provide clinicians with actionable insights and tools to serve patients better and address urgent industry challenges.

In a blog post, Microsoft said:

Our work to integrate Azure OpenAI Service and Nuance ambient technologies within the Epic ecosystem shows that broader strategic collaborations can rapidly accelerate the availability of actionable AI-driven solutions for healthcare organizations and the patients they serve.

By using Azure OpenAI Service, Epic is now delivering generative AI exploration for an initial set of users.

Epic and Microsoft’s Nuance division have also partnered to integrate Nuance’s speech recognition and AI technology into Epic’s health record platform. This will enable physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff to use speech recognition and AI-powered assistance while documenting patient care in Epic.

For those unaware, Nuance is an AI and cloud company that primarily builds healthcare products. Microsoft acquired Nuance Communications in 2022 for $19.7 billion.

According to Nuance, Ambient Clinical Intelligence or ACI solutions help “to remove much of the documentation burden, healthcare organizations can reduce burnout, retain existing staff, and attract new talent, while improving patient relationships and outcomes.”

It can also “free physicians from the shackles of clerical duties and bring back the joy of practicing medicine.”

Previously, Microsoft supported healthcare systems in cloud computing with Azure. In 2020, the company announced an Industry Cloud solution, Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare.

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