Epic's bet on generative AI

Epic is betting that generative artificial intelligence will be the future of healthcare.

The EHR vendor is developing over 60 applications that use the technology, including a billing chatbot and tools to create denial appeal letters and emergency department discharges.

The company's dominance in the hospital industry could give it an advantage in the generative AI market, as health systems might be more likely to invest in a company they've already spent tens — to hundreds — of millions on for their EHRs, Forbes reported March 18.

"Part of the problem and the strength of Epic is it has captured a large part of the C-suite of these hospitals," Zak Kohane, MD, PhD, editor-in-chief of NEJM AI and chair of biomedical informatics at Boston-based Harvard Medical School, told the news outlet. "It's almost a Stockholm syndrome. … They have a better shot than most at getting that sale."

Houston Methodist is one of the first health systems to test a generative AI-backed coding app from Epic that scans clinician notes to suggest likely diagnosis and procedure codes, according to the story. Epic plans to release the program in May.

The EHR vendor uses GPT-4 large language model technology from OpenAI, the ChatGPT developer backed by Microsoft, an Epic partner. An early tool spawned by that collaboration, which drafts patient portal messages in MyChart, has about 90 customers, Forbes reported.

"We're really trying to decrease the burden on the clinicians," Epic founder and CEO Judy Faulkner said at the Forbes Health Summit in December. "So far our clinicians and our patients have found that they liked the AI's response better than the human beings' response, because the AI was more empathetic."

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