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Microsoft, Epic enable generative AI to be used in EHRs

The news: Epic and Microsoft are partnering to enable health systems to integrate Microsoft's OpenAI Azure Services—which include ChatGPT and GPT-4 capabilities—into their electronic health records (EHRs).

  • Some of Epic’s health system customers are testing the tech’s ability to draft doctors’ messages to patients.
  • Later, hospitals will see if generative AI can work with Epic’s data visualization software to identify areas for operational improvement.

Why it matters: As hospitals look to reduce administrative burden, digital health companies and Big Tech players have been rushing to develop generative AI tools or roll ChatGPT and GPT-4 capabilities into their products.

It was only a matter of time before EHR vendors started to do the same.

  • Some health systems are already piloting the Epic-Microsoft generative AI integration to create automatic responses to patients’ online questions.
  • It’s expected to be a time saver for physicians. The number of online messages from patients increased by more than 150% at the onset of the pandemic, per Epic data.
  • eClincalWorks, another EHR developer, is also integrating its system with ChatGPT and Azure OpenAI Service. The combined tech will aim to help physicians gather only pertinent patient information in the EHR and summarize clinical visits.

Yes, but: Azure OpenAI is a product offering on Azure. Health systems that don’t run their Epic EHRs on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform won’t be able to access the integrated AI tools.

Microsoft could be leaning on its lead in the generative AI race—and its strong ties with Epic—to reel in more healthcare cloud customers.

  • Microsoft is an exclusive partner of OpenAI, having reportedly invested around $13 billion in the company.
  • The Big Tech firm may be banking on its tie-ups with Epic—the predominant EHR vendor in US hospitals—to gain ground on Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the healthcare cloud market.
  • More health IT vendors use AWS (57%) as their primary cloud provider than Azure (41%) or Google Cloud Platform (2%), per a December 2022 report from KLAS.

This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Digital Health Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the healthcare industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.