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HCA Healthcare, Google Cloud team to accelerate use of AI in hospitals

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The hospital system and tech giant say they are partnering on programs to reduce some administrative hassles for doctors and nurses in producing patient records.

HCA Healthcare says it is expanding its partnership with Google Cloud to utilize artificial intelligence to reduce headaches for staff and allow clinicians to focus more on treating patients.

HCA Healthcare CEO Sam Hazen talks with Helen Waters, COO of MEDITECH, at the ViVE Conference March 28. (Photo: Ron Southwick)

HCA Healthcare CEO Sam Hazen talks with Helen Waters, COO of MEDITECH, at the ViVE Conference March 28. (Photo: Ron Southwick)

HCA, the large for-profit health system, has been testing some of the technology in a few locations, but is looking to expand the use of generative AI across the organization. HCA operates more than 180 hospitals and 2,300 other ambulatory care sites.

More physicians and nurses have left hospitals or at least said they’re pondering career changes due to the amount of time they spend on documentation and other hassles. Doctors have pointed to bureaucratic burdens as a top source of burnout.

Here’s a rundown of HCA’s plans to expand the use of AI.

Working with Google Cloud

HCA first announced its collaboration with Google Cloud in 2021 to build a data analytics platform. Now, the companies are going forward.

Early this year, about 75 emergency department doctors began using Google’s AI technology in a pilot program. They were using the Google’s tech to document conversations with patients. They’re teaming with Augmedix, a health technology firm that focuses on medical documentation.

Doctors use an app from Augmedix on a hands-free device, and the technology creates medical notes from the discussions with patients. The technology ditches the extraneous conversation and focuses on the relevant medical information, the companies say. Doctors go over the notes and can make final tweaks before the notes are moved into the hospital’s electronic health records, HCA says.

Ian Shakil, founder and chief strategy officer of Augmedix, wrote in a blog post, “This product and collaboration could have a powerful impact on operations and improve efficiency, allowing clinicians to spend more time at the bedside with their patients.”

Early returns

Doctors in the pilot program have given the technology good reviews, HCA says. The companies say they’re still looking at the data.

But HCA must have confidence in the technology, since the company plans to use it in more hospitals later this year.

Help for nurses

In a separate program, HCA says it's beginning to work on a program to use AI to help nurses in handing off patients during shift changes.

Using Google Cloud’s AI technology, HCA has developed a system to automatically produce handoff reports between nurses. The reports include details such as medications, lab results and comments from patients. The program is being tested at UCF Lake Nona Hospital.

HCA says nurses have offered feedback and while the technology continues to be tested, the company says nurses have been enthusiastic about the accuracy of the reports, and HCA says it could help reduce a lot of manual work on notes from nurses.

‘Better workflows’

Michael J. Schlosser, senior vice president of care transformation and innovation at HCA Healthcare, said the goal of expanding the use of AI is to give doctors and nurses more time to focus on patients.

“Generative AI and other new technologies are helping us transform the ways teams interact, create better workflows, and have the right team, at the right time, empowered with the information they need for our patients,’ Schlosser said in a statement.

Cloud-based records

HCA recently moved to MEDITECH’s cloud-based health record system. At the ViVE digital health conference in May, HCA Healthcare CEO Sam Hazen said the cloud-based system will enable HCA to use data better, give doctors more insights they can use, improve patient safety, and manage business operations more effectively.

The health system noted its partnership with MEDITECH in its announcement about its plans to expand the use of AI in hospitals. HCA said the MEDITECH collaboration is a key element of the company’s digital transformation.

Moving to the cloud “really opens up the possibilities for much better care in our company,” he said.


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