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We asked doctors using AI scribes: Just how good are they?


Andrea Partida, DO, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Enid, Okla., loves her new assistant.

The 15 or 20 minutes she used to spend on documentation for each patient visit is now 3. The 2-3 hours she’d spend charting outside clinic hours is maybe 1.

All that time saved allows her to see two to five more patients a day, provide better care to each patient, and get more involved in hospital leadership at Integris Health, where she works.

“I have a better work-life balance with my family,” Dr. Partida said. “I leave work at work and get home earlier.”

You’ve probably figured out the plot twist: Dr. Partida’s assistant is not a person – it’s artificial intelligence (AI).

Dr. Partida uses IRIS, a tool from OnPoint Healthcare Partners, part of a fast-growing niche of AI medical scribes designed to automate onerous data entry. The evolution of generative AI – specifically, large language models, such as ChatGPT – has led to a rapid explosion of these tools. Other companies in the space include Abridge, Ambience Healthcare, Augmedix, DeepScribe, Nuance (part of Microsoft), and Suki. The newest kid on the block, Amazon Web Services, announced the launch of HealthScribe in July.

These tools – some of which are already on the market, with more on the way – record patient visits and generate notes for treatment and billing. Earlier iterations combine AI with offsite human scribes who provide quality control. But more and more are fully automated, no human required. Some also offer video recording and foreign language translation.

The promise is alluring: Ease your workload and reclaim hours in your day so you can spend more time with patients or try that “work-life balance” thing you’ve heard so much about.

But do these tools fulfill that promise?

According to Dr. Partida and other doctors who spoke with this news organization, the answer is a resounding yes.

A tech solution for a tech problem

“I believe a lot of doctors see patients for free. They get paid to do paperwork,” said Anthony J. Mazzarelli, MD, JD, MBE, co-president and CEO of Cooper University Health Care, in Camden, N.J.

Indeed, for every hour U.S. clinicians spend with their patients, they may spend 2 more hours documenting in electronic health records (EHRs), estimates show. About half of doctors, especially those in primary care, report feeling burned out, and some 42% say they want to quit clinical practice.

Enter AI scribes.

“The holy grail in medicine right now is improving burnout while also maintaining or improving productivity and quality,” said Patricia Garcia, MD, associate clinical information officer for ambulatory care at Stanford (Calif.) Health Care. “These ambient digital scribes have the potential to do just that.”

While anyone can buy these products, their use has been mostly limited to pilot programs and early adopters so far, said Dr. Garcia, who has been helping to pilot Nuance’s digital scribe, DAX, at Stanford.

But that’s expected to change quickly. “I don’t think the time horizon is a decade,” Dr. Garcia said. “I think within a matter of 2 or 3 years, these tools will be pervasive throughout health care.”

Since introducing these tools at Cooper, “our doctors’ paperwork burden is significantly lighter,” said Dr. Mazzarelli, who decides which technologies Cooper should invest in and who monitors their results. In Cooper studies, physicians who used DAX more than half the time spent 43% less time working on notes.

“They spend more time connecting with their patients, talking with them, and looking them in the eye,” Dr. Mazzarelli said. That, in turn, seems to improve patient outcomes, reduce doctor burnout and turnover, and lower costs.

The AI scribes, by virtue of eliminating the distraction of note taking, also allow doctors to give their full attention to the patient. “The patient relationship is the most important aspect of medicine,” said Raul Ayala, MD, MHCM, a family medicine physician at Adventist Health, in Hanford, Calif., who uses Augmedix. The digital scribe “helps us strengthen that relationship.”


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