- Health IT startup Suki has raised $20 million to advance an artificial intelligence-based voice assistant for physicians. The Series A funding round was led by Venrock, with support from First Round and Social Capital. Flatiron Health CEO Nat Turner and Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff also contributed to the round.
- The company is led by former executives at Google and Salesforce.
- The assistant is currently being tested in 12 pilots at internal medicine, ophthalmology, orthopedics and plastic surgery practices in California and Georgia. Early results show the tool reduces time spent on medical notes by as much as 60%.
The news comes as hospitals and physician practices across the U.S. are embracing AI and digital technologies to increase efficiencies and improve the patient experience. AI-powered medical assistants can book appointments, remind patients to take their medications and perform other time-consuming tasks. They can also help with billing, claims management and inventory.
Reducing administrative burden is a key goal of many of these products. In a recent Medscape survey, roughly seven in 10 doctors reported feeling burned out, depressed or both. A recent Annals of Family Medicine report found primary care physicians spend more than half their workday on EHR and other computer tasks.
Meanwhile, studies show consumers want more face time and a more positive interaction with their providers. Doctors who spend more time with patients are seen as being more concerned and invested in their patients and tend to get higher online ratings.
That Suki comes from Silicon Valley isn't surprising. Researchers at Google late last year said speech recognition technology could be practical for transcribing medical conversations, which has practical implications for physician documentation.
According to Redwood City, California-based Suki, its digital assistant can also search and retrieve patient data such as test results and imaging files. The company also said the assistant can create action plans for patient care based on the doctor-patient visit and the doctor’s known preferences and clinical practice guidelines.