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Ottawa Hospital testing new AI tool to help doctors draft clinical notes for patient care

Unions plea for thousands of healthcare workers and more paramedics as hospital staffing shortages continue to plague the medical sector. (Tyler Fleming / CTV News Ottawa) Unions plea for thousands of healthcare workers and more paramedics as hospital staffing shortages continue to plague the medical sector. (Tyler Fleming / CTV News Ottawa)
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The Ottawa Hospital is hoping artificial intelligence will help reduce physician burnout and increase access to care for patients.

Ottawa's largest hospital is testing DAX Copilot, a Microsoft program that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to create draft clinical notes for physicians to use during appointments with patients.

"Using ambient, conversational, and generative AI, DAX Copilot securely records physician-patient conversations and converts them into medical notes for the physician to review and finalize.The notes are then entered into TOH’s electronic health records system, Epic," the Ottawa Hospital said in a statement.

According to the Canadian Medical Association, physicians spend approximately 10 hours per week on administrative work, including filling out charts after a patient's appointment. The Ottawa Hospital says the DAX Copilot program will help free up time for doctors, so they can spend more time providing care to patients.

"With DAX Copilot, our physicians will now be able to spend less time on administrative tasks, which allows them to spend more time interacting with patients and delivering high-quality care," Cameron Love, president and CEO of the Ottawa Hospital, said in a statement.

"Using DAX Copilot is one way that we are using innovative solutions to increase access to care for patients in our community.”  

The Ottawa Hospital is the first Canadian hospital to test the DAX Copilot system for physicians. The hospital says patients will need to give consent before their appointments are recorded with the system.

"We are excited to have a new tool that can help physicians reduce the amount of time they type information into a computer and spend more time with their patients," Dr. Virginia Roth, Chief of Staff at the Ottawa Hospital, told Newstalk 580 CFRA's Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron.

Dr. Roth says the DAX Copilot is similar to an app on a cellphone.

"If a patient consents, (it) will pick up the conversation between the physician and a patient in the background and translate that into a medical note that is directly placed in the patient's secure medical record.

All patients will have access to the notes from their appointment through the Ottawa Hospital MyChart patient portal.

Dr. Roth says she had an opportunity to test the new DAX Copilot system.

"Within 20 seconds of ending the visit, there was a note that was accurate. In fact, I read through it and don't think I would have changed anything before approving and sending off that note."

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