UW Health nurses are pioneering the use of GenAI to combat workforce shortages and improve patient care.

Since April 2023, UW Health, a leading healthcare system in Wisconsin, has been piloting a GenAI initiative in collaboration with Microsoft and Epic. Initially started with physicians, this program addresses healthcare challenges like workforce shortages and burnout. Nurses began participating in September, using an LLM to draft patient messages in MyChart, Epic’s patient portal.

GenAI drafts responses, which nurses review for accuracy and tone before sending. Chief nurse executive Rudy Jackson emphasized the importance of nurses’ involvement in developing this technology. Over 75 nurses have crafted more than 3,000 messages, refining the tool to serve patients and the healthcare system better.

One nurse noted the efficiency of starting with a draft and appreciated the opportunity to enhance the tool’s functionality. To ensure patient information remains secure, every GenAI-created message undergoes human review and editing.

UW Health is known for its strong support of nursing development. It offers residency and externship programs with impressive retention rates. In 2023, it launched a groundbreaking registered nurse apprenticeship program to reduce barriers and create pathways to nursing careers.