AI Promises to be a Helping Hand for This Orthopedic Hand Surgeon

As the sole orthopedic hand surgeon in my area, I used to see about 45 patients a day and spend well over an hour each evening on clinic notes. Now, I see more than 50-60 patients a day while spending 5 to 10 minutes reviewing notes before I leave the office.

I am almost always home by 5pm to sit down for a family dinner and help with my children’s bedtime routines. What changed? Just one thing—I gave artificial intelligence a chance.

Like many of my orthopedic colleagues, I tend to be skeptical of flashy new advancements in technology. I was unsure of what to expect last fall when I decided to test a second AI-driven ambient listening solution. I’d tried one previously that hadn’t quite lived up to the hype. Could NextGen® Ambient Assist realize its promise of helping me reclaim time by reducing the burden of documentation? I soon learned that this solution was the real deal.

At about 1/10th the cost of a scribe, Ambient Assist interprets patient-provider conversations in real time to summarize appointments and deliver SOAP notes directly into the EHR. With one tap, Ambient Assist “listens” to the whole patient encounter and then leverages AI to generate an accurate medical note in about 30 seconds. I can review and edit it immediately or at the end of the day—no copying and pasting needed, because it’s fully integrated into my EHR.

The technology is sophisticated enough to remove casual chit-chat about the weather or a patient’s weekend plans, so visit notes remain focused on details that are medically important. Audio and transcripts are never stored or saved, offering an extra measure of security.

I’ve discovered my own set of “best practices” that help me tailor the solution to my preferred workflow. For example, prior to seeing a patient, I like to review their X-rays and dictate my treatment plan notes. This allows me to start each appointment with more context. I am careful not to use medical jargon when I’m with patients, as I feel it may create confusion or unneeded worry. Instead, I’ll dictate the physical exam as I walk out of the room and then quickly review the note on my phone or iPad.

I’ve already used Ambient Assist in more than 500 appointments since adopting it in fall 2023. My patients like the shorter wait times for appointments—I can see at least 5 more patients a day—and my family likes the extra time with me. Meanwhile, I feel energized and more effective at both work and home.

Can AI truly revolutionize the modern practice of medicine? For me, it’s been a real helping hand.

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