Epic to debut ambient voice technology assistant at HIMSS20

“Just like you use your smart speaker at home, clinicians soon will be able to say ‘Hey Epic’ to quickly get the information they need and take action,” an Epic exec reveals.
By Bill Siwicki
12:02 PM
Epic to debut ambient voice technology assistant at HIMSS20

Epic Systems will debut at HIMSS20 in March its ambient voice technology voice assistant called “Hey, Epic!” Epic will be in Booths 2159 and 2179.

“Just like you use your smart speaker at home to play your favorite song, clinicians soon will be able to say ‘Hey Epic’ to quickly get the information they need and take action,” said Sean Bina, vice president of access and patient engagement at Epic. “Epic’s Voice Assistant, called Hey Epic!, already is used today by nearly 20 organizations to place orders, call members of a patient’s care team, create reminders, and more.”

In the future, providers will be able to use ambient voice technology for an even broader range of requests and commands, and even complete entire visits without ever touching a mouse or a keyboard, Bina contended.

‘Show me the last cholesterol results’

“Today, providers already can activate the voice assistant from their phone to access information about their patients,” he explained. “They might ask, ‘Who is my next patient?’ Or request information like ‘Show me the last cholesterol results’ so they can prepare for each visit. They also can take action by placing orders for medications or calling the patient.”

As nurses are rounding on an inpatient unit, they might say, “Remind me to bring ice chips to room 104” to quickly add tasks to their worklist, he added. All of this is made possible through integration with technologies from vendors Nuance Communications and M*Modal, now part of 3M.

"Ambient voice technology is one way to quickly bring important information to the surface so physicians can make the most of the time with their patients."

Sean Bina, Epic

Later this year, Hey Epic! will become more interactive with the ability to respond with follow-up questions or confirmation that an action is complete. It also will be completely hands-free, so providers can simply say “Hey, Epic” to activate the voice assistant.

“At HIMSS 2020, Epic will demo these existing features, show what’s coming soon, and introduce plans for the expansion of voice integration to include secure chat, conversational capture and automatic note creation,” Bina noted.

New forms of patient engagement

Ambient voice technology has the potential to completely change the way that providers engage with patients and complete documentation.

“One of the most pressing issues for physicians today is finding ways to use the vast amount of data available to provide more personalized, effective care for patients, even as there are increasing demands on physicians’ time,” Bina said. “Ambient voice technology is one way to quickly bring important information to the surface so physicians can make the most of the time with their patients.”

Voice integration also has the potential to help providers in situations where they cannot click or type, like in an operating room. Once surgeons have scrubbed in, if they have ambient voice technology they still will be able to get the information they need without removing their gloves.

“There are many ways that ambient voice technology could be useful for patients, too,” Bina added. “They might ask , ‘Hey, Epic, when is my appointment with Dr. Johnson?’ Or say ‘Hey, Epic, refill my medication.’

“When patients are admitted in the hospital, they could send a quick message to their nurse or request services,” he said. “Patients can do all of this and more today in MyChart and MyChart Bedside, but voice commands will add a new level of convenience to help patients engage with their healthcare.”

Early feedback is positive

Ambient voice technology still is relatively new in healthcare, so there is not a lot of data yet to measure its effects. However, early results and feedback from providers pioneering “Hey Epic!” have been positive.

“One provider told us that he appreciates the ability to hear about each patient’s care gaps so he can address those gaps during the visit,” Bina recalled. “In the future, ‘Hey Epic!’ will be able to use the conversation between the patient and the provider to suggest next steps, like a screening or a consult. This will make it easier to individualize care and focus on prevention.”

In addition to making it easier for physicians to have more meaningful interactions with their patients, there also is early data that shows that there is a strong business case for using voice technology, Bina contended.

“One organization reported that during a pilot at an orthopaedic clinic, their providers were not only happier and more focused, they were also able to see 24% more patients and brought in an additional $1.35 million in revenue during one quarter,” he said.

Ambient voice technology is a promising new tool that will make it easier to access and act on health data. Epic sees this as an important area for continued development so its clients can continue to be at the forefront of providing a great experience for their clinicians and patients.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com
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