It has been some time coming but this week there was a major breakthrough in the use of AI-assisted transcription tools in general practice when Best Practice announced it had partnered with very youthful start-up Lyrebird Health to integrate the latter’s Lyrebird Scribe tool into Bp Premier.
Rival Medical Director was not far behind, announcing it too was in discussions with a number of tech providers to develop a transcription capability that Telstra Health plans to add to its new Smart suite of tools for MD. (Telstra Health has big plans for its Smart suite that are worth taking a close look at.)
While these sorts of cheap and freely available AI-assisted voice to text apps for medical transcription in primary care have been around almost a year – a veritable lifetime in AI terms – what is different about BP’s announcement is that it’s embedding Lyrebird into its PMS. Other popular offerings out there like Heidi Health do the same job in terms of AI prompts and can be used with any PMS just by copying and pasting notes, integrating the app into the PMS has always been the holy grail for GPs.
What is more interesting than the tech – voice-to-text medical transcription has been around for quite a few years now, although it has been massively boosted in efficiency through conversational and generative AI – is what routine use of these tools will do for the patient experience. It will be interesting to see how GPs in particular introduce patients to the use of these apps in routine consultations with consent to being recorded having long been an impenetrable barrier.
These new tools though are able to listen in, provide real-time transcription, convert the consult to a clinical note and then wipe all trace of audio in a matter of seconds. It will be fascinating to see if there are immediate changes to doctor-patient interactions, with the doctor free to concentrate more on the patient in front of them than their computer.
Dictation tools have of course been commonplace for transcribing dictation for medical specialists and hospital notes for years, but they have never been able to penetrate the GP market. GPs have been very early adopters of this newer technology though, probably because it’s actually useful to them.
That BP has chosen to partner with a start-up like Lyrebird, established by two uni students with no history in healthcare, would normally raise everyone’s eyebrows. The commitment to privacy and security for patients and practitioners is impressive, although we would like to know a little more about how their AI has been trained and on what. We also think it might be an idea for the GP colleges to publish some guidance on how to use these tools with patients, including gaining their consent.
We also think there is real potential here for GPs to not just use the tools for their own notes, but for generating consult notes for patients. No more in one ear and out the other? That would be a breakthrough indeed.
That brings us to our poll question for the week:
Will AI transcription tools improve the patient experience in consultations?
Vote here and leave your comments below.
Last week we asked: Is there a need for comprehensive standards for LLM-generated clinical summaries? Overwhelmingly yes, our readers said: 88 per cent to 12 per cent against.
If yes, who should be in charge of developing them? Clinicians and GPs, the medical profession, colleges and regulators some said, while others said the government, Standards Australia and the Digital Health Agency. Here’s what else you said: