AI helping UC San Diego physicians draft more empathetic responses

UC San Diego Health has been piloting the use of generative artificial intelligence in its Epic EHR system to help draft responses to patient messages and found that the tool is assisting physicians in drafting more empathetic responses. 

Initiated in April 2023, the University of California San Diego School of Medicine conducted a study of the tool in the health system's EHR to test its ability to draft physician responses to nonemergency questions. 

The results, published April 15 in JAMA Network Open, found the tool did not reduce physician response time to messages, but it was able to start an empathetic draft that physicians could edit instead of starting from scratch, according to an April 15 news release UC San Diego Health shared with Becker's

The generative AI tool was also able to help draft longer, compassionate responses, according to the study.

"This study shows that generative AI can be a collaborative tool," Ming Tai-Seale, PhD, study lead author and professor of family medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, said in the release. "Our physicians receive about 200 messages a week. AI could help break 'writer's block' by providing physicians an empathy-infused draft upon which to craft thoughtful responses to patients."

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