Mercy partners with Microsoft to use artificial intelligence to help the hospital system

Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 5:39 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Mercy is partnering with Microsoft to use generative artificial intelligence and other digital technologies to give physicians, advance practice providers and nurses more time to care for patients and improve the patient experience.

Joseph Kelly with Mercy says the hospital system found over 50 ways to use AI and will be implementing several in a test round.

“While it may be referred to as artificial intelligence, we really internally are moving forward with this as augmented intelligence,” Kelly said. “This isn’t going to replace a coworker or replace the expertise of our physicians or of nurses.”

Mercy plans to use Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service to improve care in several immediate new ways:

Patients will have the information to better understand their lab results and engage in more informed discussions about their health with their provider through the help of generative AI-assisted communication. Patients will be empowered to get answers in simple, conversational language.

Mercy will apply generative AI when taking patient calls for actions like scheduling appointments. Beyond the initial call, the AI solution will provide recommendations for additional follow-up actions to make sure all the patient’s needs are met during a single interaction, limiting the need for follow-up calls.

A chatbot for Mercy co-workers will help quickly find important information about Mercy policies and procedures, and locate HR-related answers such as information on benefits or leave requirements. By helping nurses and co-workers find the information they need more quickly, they can spend more time on patient care.

“It’s intended when they can’t reach a doctor or they can’t reach the nurse or the office is closed and they just want an answer,” Kelly said.

When it comes to your personal information, Kelly said patient privacy is key.

“There are guarantees from those organizations to ensure that no patient data will be used inappropriately,” Kelly said. “We also de-identify all of our patient data.”

Kelly sees AI in medicine as being beneficial, especially in easing the burden on nurses.

Kelly hopes the use of AI technology could encourage more people to join the profession in the future.

“This enables us to have nurses spend more time doing the thing that they love and the whole reason they got into this in the first place, which was to care for others, to serve others,” Kelly said.

Mercy’s goal is to have the AI tech rolled out by the middle of next year.