AI improves physician readiness for patients while cutting time spent on charts

AAFP, developer applies artificial intelligence to primary care.

Computerized artificial intelligence (AI) cut the time primary care physicians spent sifting through patient charts — but helped them feel more prepared for patient visits.

The findings were part of a study conducted by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Innovation Lab. AAFP worked with software developer Navina to test its Navina AI Assistant program in a 30-day trial with 10 physicians in three practices.

After at least 991 patient encounters, the doctors reported a 61% reduction in visit preparation time, a 25% increase in received diagnoses, and a 37% increase in risk-adjusted factor scores. All participants said they would recommend AI Assistant to a colleague, according to the study, “AI Assistant for Clinical Review to Reduce Burden and Improve Quality and Value-Based Care Outcomes,” AAFP and Navina announced Dec. 6.

“The dramatic impact on these family physicians suggests that AI Assistant for Clinical Review may be an essential technology to optimize the family medicine experience,” the report said.

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“Charter review is a significant burden for physicians today who only use an EHR,” or electronic health record, Steven E. Waldren, MD, MS, AAFP vice president and chief medical informatics officer, said in a news release. “In our lab, we have seen the promise of leveraging an AI assistant for clinical review and look forward to further understanding the positive impacts of these technologies in care delivery and transitioning to value-based care.”

The results will receive further study in a Phase 2 Innovation Lab where AAFP and Navina will study AI Assistant adoption for Clinical Review by 100 family physicians, the report said.

The report noted that physicians’ clerical loads are consuming time in and out of the office. Meanwhile, billions of dollars in investment in AI have produced health apps and software that increase burdens and burnout for physicians instead of improving patient care.

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Family physicians spend more than 1.5 hours a day performing chart reviews to support patient care. AI Assistant Navina aims to scan patient charts and provide physicians with a “problem-oriented chart summary,” eliminating the need for doctors to search and click through lab work, diagnostics, referrals, consultation notes, loose summaries, and more.

Participating physicians used a five-point scale to rate feelings of burnout, from 1, or no symptoms, to 5, completely burned out and possibly in need of help. Their average rating dropped from 3.4 before the AI ​​Assistant, to 2 after using it, which equates to the feeling “I’m stressed, but I don’t feel burnt out.”

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Reduced preparation time for complex patients from 14.1 minutes to 5.5 minutes. Physicians reported being fully prepared for 54% of visits before using the program, and for 81% after using the AI ​​Assistant, according to the study.

“The dramatic impact on these family physicians suggests that AI Assistant for Clinical Review may be an essential technology to optimize the family medicine experience,” the report said. AAFP and Navina noted that the study worked with electronic health record programs that allowed interoperability.

“The entire family physician membership has many different EHRs that are more difficult to integrate with, delaying the implementation of any third-party innovations,” the report said. “This is always a key challenge for any innovation that requires robust data exchange with the EHR. It continues to be an area of ​​advocacy for the AAFP.”

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