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In the doctor’s offices of the future, artificial intelligence will be a fly on the wall, listening in and logging the sensitive conversations that happen every day between patients and their doctors. Gone will be the distracted doctor hunched over a keyboard, tapping, clicking, constantly playing catch-up with hours of extra work.

That’s the vision pitched by a spate of new startups and major tech companies like Microsoft, which one year ago spent over $19 billion to acquire Nuance Communications, the biggest in a crowded field of players using AI to automate medical note-taking. The idea is gaining ground in hospitals around the country, too, where burned-out doctors are desperate for technologies that can cut down on the hours they spend painstakingly documenting patient visits. Hundreds of health systems around the country are using these tools in hopes the AI can lift them out of the drudgery.


But as the technology takes hold, doctors, patients, hospitals, and the companies building these tools are all confronting the same question: When you’re ceding control to AI, how good is good enough?

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