The healthcare industry has dozens of startups promising to alleviate clinicians’ documentation workload, mainly either by improving workflows in the electronic health record or using automation to offload some of the burden.
Redwood City-based Suki seeks to lighten the documentation burden through its AI-powered voice assistant for physicians. On Wednesday, the company announced one of its biggest partnerships to date — it is integrating its voice assistant into Epic’s EHR.
Suki’s voice assistant can be thought of as like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, but for doctors, CEO Punit Soni said during a recent interview.
By calling out to Suki’s assistant, a physician can quickly access information about their patient, ranging from medications to vital signs to allergies to surgical histories. They can also ask Suki to do things like dictate clinical notes, pull up their weekly schedule and help with ICD-10 coding.
Suki also recently announced that its assistant can generate clinical notes from ambiently listening to a conversation between a physician and their patient. These notes are automatically sent back to the patient’s EHR so that relevant sections can be updated.
More than 100 health systems use Suki’s assistant across more than 30 specialties, Soni pointed out. These specialties include family medicine, cardiology, pediatrics, orthopedics, ophthalmology and plastic surgery.
Suki’s integration with Epic is not the first time that the startup has embedded its assistant into a vendor’s EHR system. The company also has integrations with companies such as Cerner, athenahealth and Elation Health.
In Soni’s view, integrating with the nation’s top EHR vendor is a significant step forward for Suki.
“In healthcare, it is not AI that makes you successful. It’s EHR integrations that make you successful.” he declared. “The number of engineers at Suki that work on [EHR integration] is probably twice the number of engineers who work on AI. And if you don’t do that with Epic, then you’re not really a serious business in this space.”
The startup’s latest EHR vendor integration is special because it uses Epic’s ambient APIs, Soni added. This means doctors using Epic can interact with the assistant from anywhere via Suki’s HIPAA-compliant mobile app.
“With Epic, we have done discrete data integration — you can break the load into small pieces and put it in the right place. We have done this on top of Epic’s ambient APIs. While they’re dealing with a patient, some doctors like to type into the EHR. And then when they go out of the office, they can pick up Suki, and whatever they typed is right there. Half of it is ready and they can finish the rest on their phone and blend it back into the EHR,” Soni explained.
But Suki, founded in 2017, isn’t the only company out there promising to make physicians’ lives easier through voice AI. One notable competitor is Nuance, which Microsoft bought for nearly $20 billion in 2021.
Soni argued that Suki sets itself apart from other voice solutions by being easier to integrate and more affordable — its price starts at $199 per user per month. He also pointed out that Suki comes with 24/7 support and doesn’t require special equipment.
In addition, Suki doesn’t have humans behind the scenes to transcribe a doctor’s dictated notes or perform other functions like other startups might, Soni added. This singular reliance on technology leads to better accuracy, he declared.
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