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Nuance integrates AI virtual assistant with EPIC EHR

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | March 13, 2018
Artificial Intelligence Health IT HIMSS
Dragon Medical enables physicians to
enter data, place orders and schedule
appointments in EHRs by command
Seventy percent of hospital CIOs are likely to consider adopting AI virtual assistants over the next year, according to recently released CHIME Survey data.

Software developers Nuance Communications Inc. and Epic are prepping for such considerations now, revealing Wednesday, March 7 at HIMSS 2018 in Las Vegas the integration of Nuance’s Dragon Medical Virtual Assistant with Epic’s EHR, to further enhance caregiver productivity and efficiency across continua of care.

“Because of the physician, nurse and administration burnout that health care has from documenting all the compliance mandates and electronic health records, the pain point of clinicians needing virtual assistants to help them get through their day has skyrocketed, and the technology has gotten better,” Peter Durlach, senior vice president of strategy and new business development for Nuance’s Healthcare division, told HCB News. “So, we have product-ized our virtual agent platform, which is an extension of our core product Dragon Medical line, and are working to bring capabilities to market in different use cases.”

A year in development, the collaboration between the two offers Epic access to three additional application areas derived from the first commercially available use cases of Dragon Medical.

These include Epic Rover, which enables nurses to enter and confirm patient data, such as blood pressure, temperature, pulse and other vitals, with commands to flowsheets; Epic Haiku, which enables physicians to search and enter data, such as lab results and medication lists, with commands; and Epic Cadence to automate and manage scheduled appointments through voice and natural dialogue.

The Dragon Medical Virtual Assistant consists of the HITRUST CSF-certified Microsoft Azure cloud hosting platform and uses the industry’s only HITRUST CSF-certified health care speech recognition platform to enhance performance as well as privacy and HIPAA compliance.

It also is connected to a specialized smart speaker prototype optimized to understand complex medical terms and ambient speech use cases. Security and clinician usability are further enhanced by Nuance’s voice biometrics capabilities.

Durlach claims that such skills create high-value clinical workflow by enabling secure searches of patient charts, order placement, capturing of clinical documentation for both general and specialty workflow, and communication.

He notes that a collaboration with an enterprise like Epic has the potential to strengthen interest from other players in the market.

“Nuance and Epic have a tremendous overlap in clients. They are one of the top EHR players in the market,” Durlach said. “When they adopt something, the scale that they can bring this to is very significant.”

Dragon Medical is used by more than 500,000 clinicians worldwide to create and communicate information on more than 300 million patients annually.

Epic Rover and Epic Haiku can be run on iOS or Android-enabled mobile devices. Epic Haiku will become available later in the year.

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