AI Medical Assistants: Changing the Landscape of Healthcare Documentation

Abdus Salaam Muwwakkil
5 min readJul 2, 2024

Healthcare professionals are increasingly turning to AI medical assistants to combat burnout and reduce time-consuming paperwork. These digital tools aim to automate the creation of medical records, potentially freeing up valuable time for patient care. As the landscape evolves, new solutions like OrbVoice are emerging to address the challenges faced by early adopters. This article examines the impact of AI assistants on healthcare, the benefits they offer, and the obstacles they must overcome to realize their full potential.

What Are AI Medical Assistants?

AI medical assistants are computer programs that listen to conversations between doctors and patients and automatically create medical notes. They use advanced artificial intelligence and natural language processing to understand and transcribe complex medical terminology and context.

Key Players in the Market:

  • Nuance DAX: Backed by Microsoft, this system integrates with many existing medical record systems but comes at a high cost of $600 per month.
  • Augmedix: Offers a hybrid approach, combining human note-takers with AI technology. They recently launched an AI-focused solution called Augmedix GO!
  • Nabla: Provides a free version for doctors to try, though its long-term sustainability remains uncertain.
  • Heidi: Focuses on learning each doctor’s individual note-taking style.

Figure 1: Comparing Top AI Medical Documentation Tools: Features, Pricing, and User Feedback

Potential Benefits of AI Medical Assistants

Time Savings and Productivity

  • AI assistants can work continuously, potentially doing the work of three human note-takers.
  • Doctors using these assistants report seeing 4–5 more patients per day.
  • On average, doctors save 2–3 hours daily on paperwork.
  • Currently, healthcare professionals spend up to 50% of their time on documentation. AI assistants aim to significantly reduce this.

Improved Accuracy:

  • AI assistants maintain 99% consistency in documentation quality, compared to 85–90% achieved by well-trained human scribes.
  • For common medical terms, AI can understand conversations with 95% accuracy.

Cost Savings and Integration:

  • Projections suggest healthcare providers might save 30–40% compared to human scribes within 5 years of implementation.
  • Many AI assistants can integrate with 95% of current medical record systems.

Recent Technological Advancements

  • Real-time Transcription: Notes are created as the conversation happens.
  • Enhanced Medical Language Understanding: AI can now handle complex medical terms more accurately.
  • Ambient Sensing: Some systems can monitor patient conditions beyond just conversation.
  • Advanced Natural Language Processing: AI is improving in understanding and summarizing medical discussions.

Impact on Doctor-Patient Interactions

A study by Tierney et al. (2024) found several positive impacts:

  • Doctors spent 9.4% less time taking notes when using AI assistants.
  • 81% of patients reported their doctor looked at the computer less during visits.
  • 78% of physicians said AI assistants made note-taking faster.
  • Many doctors report being able to focus more on patients and less on typing.

Current Challenges and Weaknesses

High costs:

  • Many doctors find current pricing models excessive, especially for smaller practices.
  • Nuance DAX, a leading product, costs $600 per month per user.
    - One user commented, “I cannot see how this add-on is worth the price they are asking. Any more than $30 in additional monthly fees for Dragon would be excessive.”
  • High implementation costs, including system changes and staff training, add to the financial burden.
  • There’s a risk of widening the digital divide in healthcare, as smaller and rural practices may be priced out.

Inconsistent Performance:

  • Quality varies widely between products and even within the same product.
  • For complex medical cases, AI assistants still make mistakes 5–10% of the time.
  • A physician reported, “The HPI (History of Present Illness) was often full of unnecessary and incorrect information.”
  • Some users report that AI-generated notes require significant editing, potentially negating time-saving benefits.
  • Integration with Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems can be problematic. One user stated, “We were told that it would eventually be in an Epic product, but after 4–5 months that never happened and we dropped it.”

Lack of Customization:

  • Current AI assistants often struggle to adapt to individual physicians’ note-taking styles and preferences.
  • The one-size-fits-all approach of many systems can lead to decreased efficiency and increased frustration.
  • Physicians often have unique ways of organizing information, which generic AI systems struggle to replicate.
  • Some doctors report spending more time editing AI-generated notes than they would writing notes themselves.

Other Challenges:

  • Privacy and Legal Concerns: There are ongoing concerns about patient data security and HIPAA compliance.
  • Doctor Skepticism: About 40% of healthcare providers express reservations about AI scribe adoption.
  • Integration Problems: Seamless integration with existing EHR systems remains a challenge for many products.

Addressing the Challenges

To overcome these obstacles, industry experts suggest:

  • Starting with small test programs before wider implementation.
  • Providing thorough training for doctors on how to use the technology effectively.
  • Being transparent with patients about the use of AI during appointments.
  • Considering a hybrid approach that combines AI efficiency with human expertise.
  • Having influential doctors champion the technology to encourage adoption.

Case Study: OrbDoc’s OrbVoice

OrbDoc, a digital health company, has recently launched OrbVoice, an AI-powered medical scribe app designed to address many of the current industry challenges.

Key Features of OrbVoice:

  • Advanced Speech Recognition: Offers a 16% improvement in medical term recognition compared to standard solutions.
  • High Performance: Delivers up to 42.8% better overall accuracy and 5–40x faster transcription speeds.
  • Intuitive Note Organization: Automatically structures notes in various formats, including SOAP.
  • Secure Data Handling: Prioritizes patient privacy with secure protocols.
  • Adaptive Learning: Understands individual speaking styles and continuously improves based on user feedback
  • Versatility: Designed to be adaptable to various healthcare contexts and specialties.

Future Outlook

As AI medical assistants continue to evolve, experts anticipate several developments:

  • Better prediction of health issues based on comprehensive patient data analysis.
  • Improved multilingual capabilities to serve diverse patient populations.
  • Enhanced ambient sensing for monitoring patient conditions beyond conversation.
  • Integration of predictive analytics and clinical decision support.
  • Changes in medical education to include training on effective use of AI tools.

Some experts believe that within 10–15 years, AI could significantly change healthcare decision-making, leading to more personalized and efficient care — a concept referred to as “Intelligence-based Medicine.”

Ethical and Legal Considerations

As these technologies advance, several crucial considerations emerge:

  • Ensuring patient data remains private and secure.
  • Developing explainable AI systems where decisions and recommendations can be clearly understood.
  • Identifying and mitigating potential biases in AI systems to ensure equitable care.
  • Establishing clear protocols for data privacy and legal compliance.
  • Balancing the benefits of AI efficiency with maintaining the human touch in patient care.


AI medical assistants represent a significant advancement in healthcare documentation, offering the potential to reduce administrative burdens and improve patient care. While challenges remain in terms of cost, performance consistency, and customization, innovative solutions are continuously entering the market. Apps like OrbVoice are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, offering improved accuracy, adaptive learning, and enhanced security features.



Abdus Salaam Muwwakkil

Abdus helps data leaders and innovation teams deploy problem solving solutions to unlock the talents of their people and establish competitive advantages.