The Ottawa Hospital doctors to try AI for patient notes

The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) is embarking on a pilot project in June, utilizing Microsoft’s artificial intelligence tool, DAX Copilot, to transcribe conversations between patients and doctors into medical notes. The initiative aims to streamline documentation processes and reduce the administrative burden on physicians.

Chief of staff Dr. Virginia Roth explained that selected doctors across various departments, including the emergency room, have volunteered to participate in the yearlong trial. With patient consent, AI will record, transcribe, and translate appointments into draft medical notes for inclusion in the patient’s chart. Physicians will review the notes, ensuring accuracy, and patients will have access to them.

Dr. Roth highlighted the potential of this initiative to significantly reduce the time spent by doctors on paperwork, allowing them to focus more on patient care. The hospital has already tested the tool, reporting “surprisingly accurate” results.

While acknowledging the evolving nature of AI, Dr. Roth assured patients of privacy safeguards, with all recordings uploaded securely to the cloud. She also addressed limitations such as difficulties in transcribing accents and the tool’s current language capabilities.

TOH’s adoption of AI aligns with a broader trend in the medical field, where AI is increasingly utilized to aid in patient triage, diagnosis, and treatment planning. Dr. Alex Wong emphasized AI’s role in improving efficiency within the healthcare system, particularly amid resource constraints and growing doctor burnout.

However, Dr. Muhammad Mamdani, Vice President of data science and advanced analytics at Unity Health Toronto, cautioned about the challenges associated with deploying AI responsibly. He highlighted the risk of AI algorithms amplifying biases if not carefully assessed and monitored. Additionally, the dynamic nature of medicine presents challenges in ensuring AI algorithms remain up-to-date with evolving treatment standards.

Despite these challenges, the consensus among experts is that AI can significantly enhance medical practices without replacing doctors. It serves as a valuable tool to expedite processes, improve accuracy, and alleviate the strain on healthcare professionals.


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