Allscripts has struck a deal to collaboratively design, test and release an AI-based, voice-enabled EHR with New York state’s largest health system. The vendor will be collecting input from clinicians, IT experts and administrators with partner Northwell Health, which expects to deploy the newly-developed platform systemwide.
Northwell’s system includes a total of 23 hospitals and about 750 outpatient facilities with more than 13,600 affiliated physicians. It also incorporates a medical school, graduate nursing school, and physician assistant program.
During the development process, Northwell will continue to use the Allscripts Sunrise EHR platform, which is already in use at Northwell’s 19 hospitals, which it has had in place since 2009 for use in both inpatient and outpatient care.
In some respects, Allscripts’ approach to the new EHR is a step forward but not completely unique.
For example, it’s becoming increasingly common for providers to integrate AI applications and approaches into their health IT infrastructure. One interesting case study comes from St. Augustine, FL-based Flagler Hospital, which kicked off a $75,000 pilot project last year leveraging AI tools to boost treatment of pneumonia, sepsis and other high-mortality conditions. Flagler expects to save $20 million over three years using the new tools.
Voice-based features have already begun to pop up here and there in EHRs. For example, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, researchers are already in the process of creating voice-controlled virtual assistant software allowing team members to interact with its Epic EHR.
Vanderbilt’s new assistant which will be tagged “EVA,” short for EHR Voice Assistant, will allow users to query the EHR using standard English-language questions. For example, if a clinician asks EVA about the last sodium level on a patient, it will retrieve not only the value, but also note whether the result is normal and where it falls in the range of possible results.
Also, other vendors are experimenting with these capabilities, notably Amazon, which has built a 12-person team within its Alexa division focused on health and wellness. The team’s initial focus areas include diabetes management, aging and care for mothers and infants, according to a report from CNBC.
I could name many more including Nuance, Noteswift, and Saykara to name just a few, but you get the point. There are a lot of companies working on this challenge from a number of different directions.
However, the planned Allscripts EHR represents perhaps the most aggressive use of these technologies that I’m aware of to date. If the vendor manages to launch a well-functioning EHR which makes the highest possible use of AI and voice-assistant technology, it could represent something truly new and probably pretty attractive. I don’t say this about development projects very often, but I’m eager to see where Allscripts and Northwell go with this.