Microsoft and Mercy team up on generative AI for healthcare

Steven Loeb · September 28, 2023 · Short URL:

The collaboration will include chatbots for patients and Mercy workers

After months of hype, we're finally starting to see the implementation of generative AI into the healthcare space. For example, Oracle recently revealed it would be integrating generative AI tools into its EHR, with that tools include voice and screen-based activations that reduce manual work for physicians.

This week, Microsoft and Mercy announced a new partnership in which Mercy, one of the 20 largest health systems in the US, will use Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service to develop chatbots with the aim of improving care by giving physicians, advance practice providers, and nurses more time to care for patients.

Part of this collaboration will involve Mercy applying generative AI when taking patient calls when scheduling appointments and additional follow-up actions, so that all the patient’s needs are met during a single interaction and they don't need to call again for a follow-up. The companies will also be developing a chatbot to help patients get information about their lab results and give them answers so they can have more informed discussions about their health with their provider.

The collaboration will also include a chatbot to be used internally by workers at Mercy to assist them with finding information about Mercy policies and procedures, and locate HR-related answers, such as benefits or leave requirements.

Mercy's healthcare system includes more than 40 acute care, managed and specialty hospitals, urgent care locations, imaging centers, and pharmacies. Mercy has 900 physician practices and outpatient facilities, more than 4,000 physicians and advanced practitioners and more than 45,000 co-workers serving patients across Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has clinics, outpatient services and outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Going forward, the two companies outlined other potential use cases for the technology, such as using data insights to give care teams smart dashboards and better visibility into the factors that impact how soon patients can return home, thereby reducing the amount of time patients spend in the hospital. The technology can also help Mercy's workers improve productivity and communication.

“Mercy and Microsoft are creating a new path for health systems in which we are working shoulder to shoulder to combine our 200-year heritage in health care and Microsoft’s extensive expertise in cloud and AI to enhance care for the patients we serve and improve the working experience for our physicians, advanced providers, nurses and all co-workers,” Steve Mackin, Mercy’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

Generative AI has seen a huge spike this year, not only in interest but in funding as well: there was $280.64 million invested across 48 seed stage deals alone in the generative AI space in Q2, nearly doubling the amount of money from the previous quarter, while the number of deals rose 33% in that time.

It's not just venture capitalists that are taking an interest in generative AI: as PitchBook also noted, over 65% of Y Combinator's summer cohort, meaning 134 startups, are building tools around AI.

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