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Physician burnout is a real thing, and its presenting a very big potential problem for our healthcare industry. When nearly half of U.S. physicians are exhibiting at least one symptom of burnout, we need to find a way to fix this problem before it leads to catastrophic results.
One potential remedy is the use of virtual assistants, which can lighten a doctor's workload by automating things like documentation and administrative tasks; the things that eat up a lot of their time but don't actually require any kind of expertise.
That's the idea behind Suki, an AI-powered virtual assistant for physicians, which announced on Wednesday that it raised $20 million in Series B funding. The round was led by new investor Flare Capital Partners, along with Breyer Capital and Epsilon Health. Returning investors First Round Capital and Venrock also participated.
With this new funding, the company has now raised $40 million in total, including $5 million in seed funding and $15 million in Series A funding.
Along with the funding, it was also revealed that Bill Geary, co-founder and general partner at Flare Capital Partners, has joined the Board of Directors at Suki.
"Bill brings more than 20 years of expertise in delivering on the promise of health care technology innovation as a leading investor in health technology companies. We look forward to working closely with Bill and benefiting from his insights on scaling our company to achieve our goals," Punit Soni, founder and CEO of Suki, told VatorNews.
Founded in 2017, Suki uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to create clinically accurate medical notes. The platform is able to complete administrative tasks, such as retrieving patient information from the electronic health record. In addition, the technology is able to become smarter by understanding the physician, adapting to things like their specialty, clinical setting and speaking style, in order to become more personalized.
The mission, said Soni, "is to bring the joy back to the practice of medicine."
"What makes Suki unique is that while other solutions may require special hardware or extensive training on software, Suki is an app that can be used on a doctor’s phone or computer, and the average time to on-board a physician is less than 30 minutes. Once a doctor learns Suki, they can use it anywhere they have their phone or computer."
The platform has been able to decrease claims denials rate by up to 19 percent by delivering accurate, detailed clinical notes. It's also able to reduce the time it takes to generate clinical documentation by 76 percent, from 13 minutes to 3 minutes.
"Suki not only delivers a better physician experience, but also supports high-quality, coordinated care and improved coding and billing through its accurate, detailed medical notes," said Soni. "By freeing up time for physicians, we allow them to focus on patient care, and we support them with the clinical data they need to make informed decisions."
The platform is currently being used in dozens of specialties, including family medicine, gynecology, orthopedics, ophthalmology, and cardiology. Suki is now active in 85 sites, including Unified Women’s Healthcare, a large OB/Gyn network, as well as a top three health system where it is deployed in seven of their regions.
Suki plans to use this funding to expand its user base through its partnerships, both new and existing, with health systems and medical groups. In addition, the company will use it to advance the AI capabilities of its product.
"As the only pure software company in the digital clinical assistant space, Suki relies on the most up-to-date and cutting edge AI and machine learning technology. We continue to advance the technology capabilities of our digital clinical assistant so that it can provide a more personalized, seamless experience for doctors," said Soni.
The company also plans to add new features, including ones that will help streamline documentation, coding, billing, and other administrative tasks for physicians.
"Our vision for Suki is to serve as a true digital assistant for doctors. We started by tackling the tasks that most burden doctors and take up a majority of their day, medical documentation and clicking through the EHR. This funding will enable us to add new features that further streamline documentation, and tackle coding, billing, and other administrative tasks for physicians," said Soni.
Finally, the new money will be used to build out the team. The company recently added Jallel Harrati as its vice president of sales and Jatin Chhugani as its vice president of engineering, and it will continue to add people in its engineering, product, and commercial departments.
Success for Suki, Soni told me me, means happy doctors.
"We want to help as many physicians as possible by automating administrative tasks so they can focus on what they love, which is taking care of their patients. We are very focused on growing the capabilities of our product so that we can achieve that goal," he said.
"Ultimately, we want to develop our AI and machine learning technology so that Suki can be a true digital assistant for doctors, streamlining all administrative functions from coding to billing and beyond."
(Image source: suki.ai)
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