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AI scribe


According to a 2023 survey by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons, primary care physicians in Ontario spend an average of 19 hours a week, or 40% of their time, on administrative tasks. OntarioMD (OMD) advocates for digital tools that allow doctors to focus their time on patients, not paperwork. AI scribe technology has the potential to help alleviate this administrative burden. 

What is AI scribe? 

AI scribe is a digital tool designed to automate time-consuming tasks such as data entry or note-taking. It uses artificial intelligence to summarize, or capture spoken conversations with consenting patients into electronic and clinically relevant medical notes. 

How does it work? 

It uses speech-to-text and AI technologies to transcribe physician-patient conversations, with consenting patients, into detailed and meaningful content. This can include summarizing notes from patient visits to identifying administrative actions such as generating referral letters. For physicians, this could help to: 

  • Minimize the burden of administrative tasks and other documentation. 
  • Increase interaction time with patients instead of computers. 
  • Enhance engagement with patients.
  • Improve accuracy of documentation details during patient visits. 

How does it differ from dictation software? 

While dictation software converts voices to text, AI scribe can extract content from what it transcribes and apply it to appropriate fields of an electronic medical record (EMR) in a structured manner. It can also pull up a patient's chart, set reminders for follow-ups and medication refills, and order tests or prescriptions, through voice commands. 

Is an AI scribe program in progress in Ontario? 

OntarioMD is leading an evaluation study of AI scribe, in collaboration with the eHealth Centre of Excellence (eCE) and Women's College Hospital Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV), to determine how this novel technology can help with reducing physicians' administrative burden.  This project is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and overseen by Ontario Health. The study is currently underway, with 150 primary care providers already selected from diverse demographic groups, technical backgrounds, and geographic areas. We are no longer accepting participants for the study. Results of the study will be shared later this year. 

Read the Ontario government's news release or view the video of its April 24, 2024 announcement on initiatives to help primary care physicians put patients before paperwork. 

Watch as Dr. Rosemarie Lall talks about AI scribe’s potential to support primary care and return joy to medicine. 

Global News I will never go back': Ontario family doctor says new AI notetaking saved her job.

Want to know more about AI and AI scribe? 

View the OMD Educates webinar or register for the OMD Educates: Digital Health Virtual Symposium 2024 to hear about the benefits, implications and future role of AI scribe technology in health care.