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HCA Healthcare, Google Bring Generative AI to Bear on Clinician Workflows

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   August 29, 2023

The health system is the latest to test the technology on administrative tasks to address stress and burnout, and will also explore opportunities to use it as a caregiver tool.

HCA Healthcare is collaborating with Google on a generative AI platform designed to handle time-consuming administrative tasks for clinicians, and has already seen success in an ED pilot.

The Nashville-based health system, comprising some 182 hospitals and 2,300 ambulatory sites of care, is the latest organization to test large language model (LLM) technology to improve workflows and reduce stress and burnout among clinicians and staff.

“We’re on a mission to redesign the way care is delivered, letting clinicians focus on patient care and using technology where it can best support doctors and nurses,” Michael J. Schlosser, MD, MBA, FAANS, the health system's senior vice president of care transformation and innovation, said in a press release. “Generative AI and other new technologies are helping us transform the ways teams interact, create better workflows, and have the right team, at the right time, empowered with the information they need for our patients.”

[See also: AIMed Global Summit Puts Augmented Intelligence in the Spotlight.]

The collaboration with Google is the latest activity in a partnership launched in 2021, which initially focused on privacy and security issues. It signals a growing interest among healthcare's biggest networks to apply AI to address key pain points in business operations.

In a pilot program launched earlier this year, HCA Healthcare integrated AI technology with smartglasses developed by Augmedix to enable 75 emergency department physicians in four hospitals to document conversations with patients. The platform used natural language processing and Google's AI tech and multi-party speech-to-text processing to convert the conversations into notes, which the physician would then review before entering into the medical record.

[See also: OSF Healthcare Uses AI to Improve Nurse Navigator Workflows.]

The health system and Google are also working on applying AI to nursing operations. They're developing a platform that can generate handoff reports, with specific attention paid to medication, vital signs, labs, patient engagement, and response to treatment. The goal is to give nurses a tool that reduces the time and energy spent on documenting patient encounters and gives them more opportunities to interact with patients.

HCA Healthcare has been refining the platform after receiving nurse feedback and is now testing the technology at UCF Lake Nona Hospital in Orlando, Florida.

Beyond addressing workflows and administrative functions, healthcare organizations are interested in using AI as a clinical decision support (CDS) tool, enabling care providers to quickly and easily access the information they need at the point of care. Researchers at Boston's Mass General Brigham recently announced that a test of ChatGPT as a CDS tool found that the LLM platform was 72% effective in making clinical decisions and 77% effective in making a final diagnosis.

With that in mind, HCA Healthcare is first examining the value of AI for caregivers through Google Cloud's Med-PaLM 2 LLM platform. The idea there is to create a tool that caregivers can use to access resources and find answers to medical questions.

“Having an LLM tailored for medical questions and content could be beneficial for certain critical use cases,” Schlosser said in the press release. “We expect Med-PaLM 2 will be especially useful when we’re asking complex medical questions that are grounded on scientific and medical knowledge, while looking for insights in complicated and unstructured medical texts.”

Eric Wicklund is the associate content manager and senior editor for Innovation at HealthLeaders.


Large Language Model (LLM) technology offers the potential to handle time-consuming administrative tasks, freeing up time for clinicians to spend on patient care.

HCA Healthcare is working with Google to test generative AI in emergency departments, where it could help clinicians document patient encounters, and in nursing operations, where it could be used to generate handoff reports.

Health systems also see the potential in using the technology as a clinical decision support tool, giving clinicians on-demand access to the information they need to treat patients.

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