Punit Soni, founder of Suki, found inspiration from shadowing doctors, seeking a problem that he could solve through a newfound company. Soni, who had spent years working at tech giants including Google, Motorola, and Flipkart, was orienting his professional vision towards a field and industry which is of paramount importance to all humans of all means; medicine. That’s how Suki, a company aiming to reduce burnout and inefficiency associated with electronic medical records keeping, came to be.
Previously known as Robin AI, the Redwood City, CA-based company brands itself as a sort of Alexa for doctors, aiming to make the currently arduous process of intensive, mandated medical notetaking more seamless. Their team is comprised of engineers, technologists, and clinicians who have contributed to the building of products for the likes of Apple, 23andMe, Google, Salesforce, and Oracle, spanning the realms of consumer, healthcare, and enterprise products.
The order that all doctors maintain thorough databases of electronic medical records has presented many issues for physicians and their assistants. In one crude study, a doctor asked his staff of 75 healthcare providers whether the new, electronically-oriented system of medical record keeping was superior to the old system of traditional file-keeping. By a vote of 75 to zero, the resounding answer was “no”, the new system is far worse. It’s a commonly held sentiment, as EMRs have dramatically increased the cost – both financially and in terms of excess time spent – of practicing medicine.
This widely-shared viewpoint became apparent to Soni as he delved into the problems plaguing medical practices throughout the nation, and it illustrates why Suki’s AI-driven system is so badly needed to ease the burden that EMRs have imposed on medical professionals. Having officially launched on May 1st after amassing $20 million in funding courtesy of Venrock, First Round, Social Capital and others and developing their product for approximately a year, it’s apparent already the potential which Suki’s AI-driven, voice-enabled medical assistant offers.
The product is being actively piloted across twelve practices spanning internal medicine, ophthalmology, orthopedics, and plastic surgery in Georgia and California. Being implemented five days per week, it’s been shown that Suki allows physicians to reduce the amount of time spent on record keeping by up to 60 percent. That is a massive feat considering that, without Suki, physicians have reported spending an average of two hours on medical note keeping for every one hour of direct clinical facetime with a patient. That’s an astonishingly backwards statistic which the Suki team is actively working to turn around and even further skew towards the patient-doctor facetime end.
Suki and the artificial intelligence it brings to the electronic medical record will dramatically improve a physician's ability to spend more time with the patient and less time in front of a computer. Providers will enthusiastically embrace this leap forward in health care technology, said Michael Behr, MD, medical director, OrthoAtlanta, and a participant in Suki's pilot.
Doctors currently spend massive amounts of capital on hiring outside workers to keep records, and those records are often inaccurate, causing doctors to spend their and their assistants’ time cleaning up mistakes. With the stakes of error in medicine higher than any other professional field, Suki’s ability to not only increase accuracy of note taking, but carry out information retrieval and other tasks more quickly than human counterparts could truly revolutionize a currently inefficient medical industry.
Artificial intelligence is changing the world around us, and it’s about time that it does the same for health care, Soni, CEO and cofounder of Suki, said.