University of Kansas Health System taps Abridge to roll out AI-based medical transcription for thousands of docs

The University of Kansas Health System tapped medical transcription startup Abridge as a new tech partner to automate clinical notes and medical conversations for doctors.

The rollout has the potential to serve more than 1,500 physicians across the system’s more than 140 locations. Abridge's technology listens to visits and uses smart tech to summarize the most important parts of the conversation for clinicians and patients.

The company touts the partnership as the most significant rollout of generative AI in healthcare to date.

The partnership comes at a time when providers around the country are buckling under increasing burnout, largely driven by clinical documentation responsibilities. At the University of Kansas Health System, providers spend 130 minutes a day on documentation outside work hours, according to the organization. This is often made worse by providers having to field additional follow-ups from patients.

“This is an onerous responsibility that we have to create and it’s just very cumbersome the way we do it now,” Greg Ator, M.D., a practicing ENT physician and chief medical informatics officer at the organization said in an interview. “Just being done with documentation when you’re done with a visit is such an improvement.” 

While other tools are available to help with documentation, Ator noted, such as medical scribes, they are becoming increasingly expensive and unreliable due to turnover. Abridge’s technology identifies more than 90% of the key points from provider-patient conversations and quickly generates summaries in various formats meant for clinicians or patients, the company said.

“Abridge is focused on putting the provider and patient at the center of all we do, reducing the burden of administrative tasks and helping clinicians focus on the patients in front of them,” Shivdev Rao, M.D., co-founder and CEO of Abridge, said in a press release. “The University of Kansas Health System and Abridge share a commitment to a future where AI helps providers and their patients feel more connected to each other, without technology getting in the way of the visit.”

The technology generates a draft within a minute of the conversation ending, Abridge claims, and offers providers tools to expedite edits—like going back to the original audio recording. The tech integrates with electronic health record software including Epic.

The company says its goal is to enhance, not replace, the work of providers. The tool also helps enhance the quality and consistency of clinical notes, Ator added. 

“We don’t want a courtroom transcript. Nobody wants to read that. Nobody wants to correct that,” Ator said. “We need, as physicians, to be able to trust that this is producing an accurate product.” 

Abridge, founded in 2018, currently serves more than 2,000 clinicians. It also has a consumer-facing app for patients. Its enterprise solution for providers launched last year when it raised $12.5 million in a series A1 round. The company, whose tech is based on the same transformer architecture behind ChatGPT, contributes to machine learning research.