In today’s era of health care, documentation has become almost as central to patient care as the actual care itself. As far as many credentialing and reimbursement entities are concerned, if it is not documented, it was not done. Unfortunately, these expanding demands for daily medical documentation have led to excessive busywork that frustrates providers in their attempts to achieve the increasingly unrealistic goal of “100% compliance.” More importantly, these demands compete with providers’ time spent in the actual care of their patients. We absolutely must design novel and sensible ways of automating the documentation process.

As an example of a poorly met documentation challenge in the intensive care unit (ICU), consider the series of interventions targeted at reducing ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). Few experts would argue over the importance of complying with these preventive measures, yet even in high-performing medical centers with incentivized...

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