Microsoft and Epic partnership will see OpenAI's GPT-4 used to discover trends in medical records
And draft letters to patientsBy Rob Thubron
A hot potato: OpenAI's GPT-4 AI language model used for ChatGPT is being put to use in the field of medicine thanks to Microsoft and Epic Systems, one of the largest healthcare software companies in the US. Its implementation will partly automate healthcare professionals' workloads, freeing them up for more critical tasks, but not everyone thinks using AI in this way is a good idea.
OpenAI's large language model (LLM) will be used for some of the more time-consuming tasks undertaken by healthcare professionals, such as drafting message responses to patients and analyzing medical records to discover potential trends.
Epic Systems' electronic health records software is used in almost 30% of acute hospitals in the US, and over 305 million patients have an electronic record in Epic worldwide. Microsoft's role will be to provide Epic with its Azure OpenAI Service, which enables API access to OpenAI's LLMs.
Using ChatGPT-4 to automatically draft messages to patients should give doctors and health care workers extra free time to deal with high-priority situations. Chero Goswami, chief information officer at UW Health in Wisconsin, said, "Integrating generative AI into some of our daily workflows will increase productivity for many of our providers, allowing them to focus on the clinical duties that truly require their attention."
Additionally, a natural language query tool will be used with SlicerDicer, making Epic's self-service reporting tool easier and more intuitive to use. It can discover trends in patients, such as an increase in side effects associated with a particular medication, and be used for financial reasons like identifying ways to reduce hospital costs. Microsoft says that it will help "clinical leaders explore data in a conversational and intuitive way."
The news comes at a time when many healthcare facilities are going through a hard time in the US. Approximately half of US hospitals finished 2022 with negative margins due to widespread workforce shortages and increased labor expenses. And disruptions to supplies and the effects of skyrocketing inflation have caused expenses to meaningfully outpace revenue increases.
"The urgent and critical challenges facing healthcare systems and their providers demand a comprehensive approach combining Azure OpenAI Service with Epic's industry-leading technology," said Eric Boyd, corporate vice president, AI Platform, Microsoft.
No. Do not do this. This is disgusting and beyond unsafe. https://t.co/QfFRDVvlQv– Dr Heidy Khlaaf (ÙÂØ§ÙÂØ¯ÙÂ Ø®ÙÂØ§ÙÂ) (@HeidyKhlaaf) April 18, 2023
While the press release makes Epic Systems' partnership with Microsoft sound like it will benefit healthcare professionals and patients, not everyone is on board. LLMs like GPT-4 have been known to churn out fabricated 'facts' and show bias, which would be especially problematic in this case.