Cedars-Sinai physicians to get 'digital practice partner' with AI chatbot

Los Angeles-based Cedars Sinai plans to adopt an artificial intelligence chatbot from startup K Health that will steer patients toward the right level of care and connect them with a human provider if needed, Forbes reported July 17.

The health system also participated as a strategic investor in a $59 million funding round for K Health, which the news outlet valued at about $800 million. Cedars-Sinai plans to launch an app by the end of the year that will link the chatbot to the system's Epic EHR and ultimately lead patients to a nurse or physician.

Shlomo Melmed, MD, executive vice president of academic affairs and dean of the medical faculty at Cedars-Sinai, told the news outlet that primary care can be a challenge for academic health systems. "It's sort of counterintuitive. For serious illness, we are so effective, and yet, for the common ailments, we have so many logistical challenges," he said. "There are 25 million people in Southern California and we have difficult access to primary care, so the potential is huge.

"K Health has trained its large language model, which is similar to the technology that powers ChatGPT, on healthcare specifically, including deidentified data from 10 million patients at Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic, according to the story. The company said it found that physicians and nurses agreed with one of its AI's diagnoses 84.2 percent of the time and the top-ranked diagnosis 60.9 percent of the time.

Jon Ebbert, MD, an internist and professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic who was involved with that research, told the news outlet the technology could speed up the intake process for patients with low-acuity conditions so physicians can make diagnoses faster and allow them to spend more time on complex cases. "That's the work that needs to be done in these spaces," he said. "What are the clinical conditions that are right for a digital practice partner to assist me? And what are the ones that I don't really think it's appropriate to deploy?"

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