Ever found yourself praying to whatever deity runs Microsoft Teams? You're not alone

Don't mind us just trying to enlighten the mood

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From the department of what can't Microsoft Teams do comes news of tuition for Buddhist monks and AI slithering into medical workflows.

In what may come as a surprise to some, monks and nuns studying at the Sitagu International Buddhist Academy in Myanmar can be trained in the dark arts of Microsoft 365 as part of a diploma in computing. Let's hope they learned how to produce something better than the Comic-Sans-heavy Microsoft Publisher efforts beloved by this hack's local spiritualists and general God-botherers.

Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, Microsoft MVP Zar Ni Tyn found himself faced with the problem of getting 250 students through the computing course remotely. A certified trainer, Zar opted for the Teams approach and introduced the pupils to the platform.

The transition was apparently "relatively seamless" despite some of the monks having never even been near a high school. "Microsoft Teams is so simple that anyone can use it," he gushed.

Indeed, assuming, when cranking the thing into life, that the person has the patience of a saint. Or a monk.

The dragon will see you now

Microsoft's miracle-working platform may find some use in the telehealth world with the integration of Nuance's speech-to-text tech dubbed the Dragon Ambient eXperience (DAX). With the lofty goal to "improve patient experiences and health outcomes while reducing physician burnout," DAX can take a crack at summarizing the conversation between a patient and their physician during a virtual appointment via Teams.

The physician is therefore saved the arduous task of scrawling illegible notes or frantically stabbing at the keyboard while the patient, who has already had to make Teams work in the first place, groans away describing their pain, the Nuance system doing all the transcribing along the way and pulling in data from the sufferer's electronic medical records.

Specifically, we're told, DAX can make a note of "physician-patient conversations during virtual visits through Microsoft Teams allowing physicians to remain focused on the patient instead of taking notes on the computer," and can "auto-populate a complete and highly accurate clinical note for physicians to review" from the chat. Ominously, we're assured "the physician always remains in control."

Well, good, we're not exactly asking the machine to grab a scalpel and dig in.

Those of a certain vintage may remember the original Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech-recognition product, which has since evolved into Nuance DAX. Nuance lays claim to handling 600 million virtual and live chats per year, with the same technology being used to power the patient-physician transcriptions.

Those twitchy about private medical notes and records being processed electronically and remotely will not be relieved to learn that, according to Nuance [PDF], "AI-generated notes go through a brief quality review process," checking for accuracy and "appropriateness" before being passed to a clinician to sign off. So, AI is involved... and also human overseers, it seems.

One can't help but wonder if the AI has been trained in the art of medical slang.

UBI all the way. ®

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