Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Sutter Heath pilots Suki AI digital assistant

Steve Rogerson
April 4, 2019



The not-for-profit Sutter Health network is teaming up with start-up Suki to pilot an artificial intelligence-powered, voice-enabled digital assistant with doctors in northern California.
 
Suki uses a combination of voice commands from a physician and context in which they are operating to create a clinically accurate note that is then pushed to an electronic health record (EHR) system.
 
"Maximising the amount of time clinicians spend with patients while reducing the documentation burden on our clinicians is a strategic and tactical priority," said Howard Landa, vice president of clinical informatics and EHR for Sutter Health. "Personalised care paired with digital assistant tools will enhance care delivery and have a positive impact on health outcomes for our consumers, which is what really matters."
 
Sutter Health is more than 60,000 people strong thanks to its integrated network of physicians, employees and volunteers. From physician offices to hospitals to outpatient care centres and home services, it has more than three million people in its care. From its street nurse programme that provides check-ups for homeless people, to telemedicine-aided specialist consultations, to walk-in care clinics, to smart glass technology, the team goes beyond traditional models to make care more convenient and to nurture and empower people throughout their medical journey.
 
Sutter will initially introduce Suki into three clinical practice areas – primary care, dermatology and orthopaedics. Over time with use, Suki can distil a doctor's conversation with a patient into an actionable plan, based on the doctor's known preferences and clinical practice guidelines.
 
A doctor can tell Suki "I did my typical diabetes counselling" for a patient, and Suki knows how to create relevant content for the note. The resulting note is tuned not only to the doctor's medical specialty, but also to their own vocabulary and style. This type of support can lead to streamlined documentation inside the patient's EHR, which can help create the most appropriate care plans for patients. The overall care experience also can improve as more time is freed up from administrative tasks, giving patients and providers more one-on-one time during visits.
 
While Suki launched in May 2018, results from one-year pilots across multiple specialties show up to a 70 per cent reduction in the amount of time physicians spend on medical notes. In comparison, for every hour of direct clinical facetime with a patient, physicians spend nearly two additional hours on medical paperwork. Today, Suki is used five days per week across the country, working with three different EHR systems and seven medical specialties, and accounting for more than 1000 patient interactions every week.
 
Suki was founded by Punit Soni – a former senior executive at Google and Flipkart – and Karthik Rajan, who previously led IT infrastructure for Salesforce. Its team includes technologists from Apple, Google, Salesforce and 23andMe, as well as physicians from the University of California, San Francisco and Stanford.
 
"We are excited to work with Sutter network doctors to help ease the burden of administrative work like medical charting and to give doctors time back in their day," said Soni. “Through this collaboration, we will expand our footprint into new specialties, allowing Suki to master new skills from one of the most tech-savvy health systems in the country.”
 
With this collaboration, Suki will continue building on the amount of time it saves physicians by capturing high-quality medical notes for patient encounters, and work with the Sutter Health network to build a data layer on top of these notes that will not only reduce the documentation burden but also attack other interesting use cases such as clinical decision support.
 
Suki is an AI-powered, voice-enabled digital assistant for doctors that lifts the burden of documentation, enabling them to focus on treating patients. By using artificial intelligence, Suki can be personalised to each doctor, gets smarter as they use it, and is rapidly and inexpensively scalable.
 
Headquartered in Redwood City, California, Suki is backed by investors such as Venrock, First Round, Social Capital and Marc Benioff. The company was named "Best New Startup" in Rock Health's Top 50 in Digital Health 2019.