- A startup that’s founded by a former Google and Motorola executive is working on building an Alexa-like assistant for doctors.
- The company’s raised $20 million to get its artificially intelligent voice assistant Suki into doctor’s offices to help them with some of the time consuming paperwork they need to fill out. It’s still in pilot mode at some medical practices in Georgia and California.
- The hope is to alleviate some of the burnout doctors feels and free up more time to be with patients.
Artificial intelligence startup Suki wants to bring an Alexa-like assistant into the doctor’s office.
The company, which officially launched on Tuesday, has raised $20 million to date from investors including Venrock, First Round, Social Capital, and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.
Suki’s goal is to help eliminate doctor burnout. More than half of doctors in the US experience burnout, a rate that’s twice as high as the average American worker. That can have a lot to do with the number of patients and the amount of paperwork that needs to be recorded about each patient. To alleviate that, practices will often hire medical scribes to record that information.
Suki wants to replace that service with an AI-powered voice assistant: In the same way you can tell Amazon’s Alexa to play a Spotify playlist or set a timer while cooking, the team at Suki aims to make a voice assistant that can record medical notes or perform simple tasks for doctors that when done manually tend to be time-consuming.
The virtual assistant, called Suki, wakes up at the sound of its name through a phone or desktop application. That way, a doctor can say “Suki, this patient needs a follow up appointment,” and the tool can help coordinate that, CEO Punit Soni, a former Google and Motorola executive, told Business Insider.
The technology is in 12 pilot programs across California and Georgia, including internal medicine, orthopedics, and plastic surgery practices.
Here’s what it looks like:
For now, Suki can be used to record medical notes from exams, but ideally Soni hopes that it can start to be proactive as well. Say the doctor mentions a patient has a particular condition: Suki can go and figure out what prescription might be appropriate so that the doctor can order it.
The hope, too is that Suki would also be able to take simple statements given by doctors and extrapolate out, such as allowing a doctor to just say a checkup was ‘normal’ and the AI could extrapolate what that means for different metrics without the doctor having to spell out a diagnosis or routine follow-up plan.
Voice assistants have been speculated as having good applications for connecting patients to medical care. In January, analysts at Cowen wrote that Amazon would have a good shot of getting into healthcare by using its voice assistant Alexa to help book a telemedicine appointment.
Soni said the plan is to use the additional funding to expand its pilot programs beyond its programs with the healthcare providers in California and Georgia, as well as hire more people to build out the technology.