The technology, developed by Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania startup Abridge, aims to reduce workloads for clinicians and improve care for patients. Shivdev Rao, the company’s CEO and a cardiologist, told The Register doctors can spend hours writing up notes from their previous patient sessions outside their usual work schedules.
“That really adds up over time, and I think it has contributed in large part to this public health crisis that we have right now around doctors and nurses burning out and leaving the profession.” Clinicians will often have to transcribe audio recordings or recall conversations from memory when writing their notes, she added.
Abridge’s software automatically generates summaries of medical conversations using AI and natural language processing algorithms. In a short demo, The Register pretended to be a mock patient talking to Rao about suffering from shortness of breath, diabetes, and drinking three bottles of wine every week. Abridge’s software was able to note down things like symptoms, medicines recommended by the doctor, and actions the clinician should follow up on in future appointments.
The code works by listening out for keywords and classifying important information. “If I said take Metoprolol twice, an entity would be Metoprolol, and then twice a day would be an attribute. And if I said by mouth, that’s another attribute. And we could do the same thing with the wine example. Wine would be an entity, and an attribute would be three bottles, and other attribute every night.”
“We’re creating a structured data dataset; [the software is] classifying everything that I said and you said into different categories of the conversation. But then once it’s classified all the information, the last piece is generative.”
At this point, Rao explained Abridge uses a transformer-based model to generate a document piecing together the classified information into short sentences under various subsections describing a patient’s previous history of illness, future plans or actions to take.
Physicians can edit the notes further, whilst patients can access them in an app. Rao likened Abridge’s technology to a copilot, and was keen to emphasize that doctors remain in charge, and should check and edit the generated notes if necessary. Both patients and doctors also have access to recordings of their meetings, and can click on specific keywords to have the software play back parts of the audio when the specific word was uttered during their conversation.
“We’re going all the way from the summary we put in front of users and we’re tracing it back to the ground truth of the conversation. And so if I have a conversation, and I couldn’t recall something happening, I can always double-check that this wasn’t a hallucination. There are models in between that are making sure to not expose something that was not discussed.”
Source: US hospital rolls out AI ‘copilot’ for doctors’ paperwork • The Register