Peter Lee

Smarter medical records

2 minute read

During a recent medical appointment, it dawned on Microsoft research president Peter Lee that his physician barely made eye contact with him. She was so busy taking notes in Lee’s electronic health record that she hardly had time to look up.

A recently launched partnership between Microsoft Research and Epic Systems, the U.S.’ leading electronic health records provider, may begin to change that. Under Lee’s leadership, the two companies are collaborating on a new system for AI-augmented record keeping. After securing patient consent, a doctor can turn on their AI companion and have it “listen” to the appointment, both to take notes while the patient is in the room and write up a visit summary after they leave. The goal is to free up clinicians’ time so they can focus on the person in front of them.

Microsoft is also working with major U.S. health systems, including Providence, on other applications for AI, including using it to sift through troves of patient records to find people who are the best fit for clinical trials testing new therapies. And the technology’s future uses are nearly endless, Lee says. He’s working toward a world where every online patient portal has an AI tool that can, for example, interpret hard-to-parse test results so patients aren’t left wondering what they mean. “What we’re doing right now, in [assisting] doctors and nurses, is already very powerful,” Lee says. “But having [the benefits of AI] also go down to patients and back to medical researchers is the idea.”

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