How this AI solution saves 7 minutes per patient encounter — 3 takeaways

During the COVID-19 pandemic, physician burnout has reached an all-time high. Meanwhile, patients are not getting the kind of healthcare experiences they want. But artificial intelligence provides a solution that helps both patients and providers while dramatically improving operational efficiency.

In a webinar held in March, hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by Nuance Communications, Jared Pelo, MD, chief clinical product officer for Nuance Communications, and Alexia Gillen, DO, ambulatory medical information officer for Monument Health — the largest health system in western South Dakota — discussed Nuance's AI solution.

Three takeaways:

  • Major barriers exist to achieving a good experience for healthcare organizations, providers and patients. Despite widespread adoption of EHRs along with the Affordable Care Act, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act and other policies, healthcare continues to endure operational inefficiencies. A major part of these inefficiencies is physicians report spending about 50 percent of their time on documentation, contributing to ever greater burnout. One study estimated the cost of physician burnout at $4.6 billion, according to research cited during the webinar.

    At the same time, patients, who increasingly expect an experience on par with consumer interactions outside of healthcare, are frustrated with their healthcare experiences, with about 75 percent wishing their healthcare experiences were more personalized. Further, 3 to 5 percent of providers' revenue is lost because of insufficient documentation and inaccurate coding.
  • Nuance DAX offers a new approach to transform the documentation conundrum. Nuance's Dragon Ambient eXperience (DAX) uses AI to streamline the documentation of the physician-patient conversation and input notes from this conversation directly into the EHR, thereby reducing physician workload. "We had confidence we would be successful ... recording a doctor-patient conversation and using AI to start the documentation for the provider. We can get it far enough that the documentation burden nearly disappears for the provider," Dr. Pelo said, with the result being a high-quality clinical note.
  • DAX delivers operational efficiencies, an improved patient experience, greater physician satisfaction and better financial results. Nuance found that, on average, DAX saved physicians seven minutes per patient encounter, reducing documentation time by 50 percent. Although seven minutes may not seem like much, Dr. Pelo said, saving seven minutes on every patient encounter is substantial. The benefits of saving that time, over 20 to 25 patient encounters per day, enabled scheduling three to five additional appointments per day. It also led to a 70 percent reduction in physicians' feelings of burnout and fatigue. Results also include 79 percent of physicians reporting improved documentation quality and 83 percent of patients saying their physician was more personal and conversational, according to research cited by the presenters.

Dr. Gillen is focused on getting buy-in for DAX among her physicians. Although some doctors are eager to try it, others are reluctant. When they do try it, "they're going to be home at dinnertime and they're going to leave today's work at work. This is just one piece of the burnout puzzle, but it's a solution I can give them to help."

Nuance and Monument Health's experience shows the power of AI to transform healthcare by improving the patient-provider encounter.

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