Skip to main content

Automating Documentation: A Critical Perspective into the Role of Artificial Intelligence in Clinical Documentation

  • Conference paper
  • First Online:
Information in Contemporary Society (iConference 2019)


The current conversation around automation and artificial intelligence technologies creates a future vision where humans may not possibly compete against intelligent machines, and that everything that can be automated through deep learning, machine learning, and other AI technologies will be automated. In this article, we focus on general practitioner documentation of the patients’ clinical encounters, and explore how these work practices lend themselves to automation by AI. While these work practices may appear perfect to automate, we reveal potential negative consequences to automating these tasks, and illustrate how AI may render important aspect of this work invisible and remove critical thinking. We conclude by highlighting the specific features of clinical documentation work that could leverage the benefits of human-AI symbiosis.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD 84.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Sola, D., Borioli, G.S., Quaglia, R.: Predicting GPs’ engagement with artificial intelligence. Br. J. Healthc. Manag. 24, 134–140 (2018)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bansler, J.P., Havn, E.C., Schmidt, K., Mønsted, T., Petersen, H.H., Svendsen, J.H.: Cooperative epistemic work in medical practice: an analysis of physicians’ clinical notes. Comput. Support. Coop. Work 25, 503–546 (2016)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Lin, S.Y., Shanafelt, T.D., Asch, S.M.: Reimagining clinical documentation with artificial intelligence. Mayo Clin. Proc. 93, 563–565 (2018)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Verghese, A., Shah, N.H., Harrington, R.A.: What this computer needs is a physician: humanism and artificial intelligence. JAMA 319, 19 (2018)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Baird, B., Charles, A., Honeyman, M., Maguire, D., Das, P.: Understanding Pressures in General Practice, London, UK (2016)

    Google Scholar 

  6. Hopson, C.: The sate of the NHS provider sector (2016)

    Google Scholar 

  7. Byrne, L., Bottomley, J., Turk, A.: British Medical Association Survey of GPs in England, London (2016)

    Google Scholar 

  8. Gibson, J., et al.: Eighth National GP Worklife Survey. Manchester (2016)

    Google Scholar 

  9. Zuboff, S.: In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power. Basic Books, New York (1988)

    Google Scholar 

  10. Smith, K., Smith, V., Krugman, M., Oman, K.: Evaluating the impact of computerized clinical documentation. Comput. Inform. Nurs. 23, 132–138 (2005)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Ammenwerth, E., Spötl, H.-P.: The time needed for clinical documentation versus direct patient care. A work-sampling analysis of physicians’ activities. Methods Inf. Med. 48, 84–91 (2009)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Erickson, S.M., Rockwern, B., Koltov, M., McLean, R.M.: Medical practice and quality committee of the American College of Physicians: putting patients first by reducing administrative tasks in health care: a position paper of the American College of Physicians. Ann. Intern. Med. 166, 659 (2017)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Rule, A., et al.: Validating free-text order entry for a note-centric EHR. In: AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings, vol. 2015, pp. 1103–1110 (2015)

    Google Scholar 

  14. Klann, J.G., Szolovits, P.: An intelligent listening framework for capturing encounter notes from a doctor-patient dialog. BMC Med. Inform. Decis. Mak. 9(Suppl 1), S3 (2009)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Wald, H.S., Borkan, J.M., Taylor, J.S., Anthony, D., Reis, S.P.: Fostering and evaluating reflective capacity in medical education: developing the REFLECT rubric for assessing reflective writing. Acad. Med. 87, 41–50 (2012)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Savolainen, R.: Everyday Information Practices: A Social Phenomenological Perspective. Scarecrow Press (2008)

    Google Scholar 

  17. Jarrahi, M.H., Thomson, L.: The interplay between information practices and information context: the case of mobile knowledge workers. J. Assoc. Inf. Sci. Technol. 68, 1073–1089 (2017)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Jarrahi, M.: Artificial intelligence and the future of work: human-AI symbiosis in organizational decision making. Bus. Horiz. 61, 577–586 (2018)

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Matt Willis .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2019 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this paper

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this paper

Willis, M., Jarrahi, M.H. (2019). Automating Documentation: A Critical Perspective into the Role of Artificial Intelligence in Clinical Documentation. In: Taylor, N., Christian-Lamb, C., Martin, M., Nardi, B. (eds) Information in Contemporary Society. iConference 2019. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 11420. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-15741-8

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-15742-5

  • eBook Packages: Computer ScienceComputer Science (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics