Home Health Care Investors pour $19M into medical-scribe company

Investors pour $19M into medical-scribe company


Medical-scribe company Augmedix hopes $19 million in Series B funding will propel it to greater market share in the growing field of tech companies promising to relieve doctors of the burdens of medical notetaking.

Nearly 1,000 doctors at 15 health systems – including Sutter Health, CommonSpirit Health and US Oncology – currently use the medical-scribe service developed by Augmedix, said Ian Shakil, its founding chairman, in a phone interview.

A health system might start with five or 10 doctors on the service, then add more over time. “It’s sort of a land-and-expand strategy,” said Shakil, who hopes to double the number of doctors using the service, both at existing health-system customers and at new ones.

Investors in the Series B round include Redmile Group, McKesson Ventures, DCM Ventures, and Wanxiang Healthcare Investments, among others.  The latest round brings total funding for Augmedix, based in San Francisco and founded in late 2012, to nearly $100 million, Shakil said.

“We have strong confidence in the Augmedix team’s ability to execute on its goal of reducing physician burnout and significantly improving their quality of life,” Tom Rodgers, senior vice president and managing director at McKesson Ventures, said in a news release.

Shakil said the new funding will allow the company to hire more staff for engineering and product development, as well as for working alongside the software it uses to translate doctor-patient conversations into medical notes. The company has about 150 employees in the U.S. and more than 1,000 so-called tech-enabled remote specialists at secure centers in Bangladesh and India.

Doctors using the Augmedix service record their conversations using either smartphones or Google Glass provided by the company. The service, which is compatible with most major electronic health record systems, including Cerner and Epic, can be used by more than 25 medical specialties. The conversations are streamed securely to a cloud-based platform and transcribed in real time.

About 60% of current users are in primary care, Shakil said. Roughly 70% use smartphones, with the remainder on Google Glass.

By recording and transcribing patient-doctor conversations, Augmedix can save physicians between two and three hours of work per day – and reduce burnout, Shakil said.

“Increasingly, health systems are coming around to this, too,” Shakil said. “You might think the CFO of a health system doesn’t really care about burnout. But it’s actually very expensive” because of the costs associated with replacing doctors who quit.

While some scribe systems may require doctors to speak in structured ways or use “wake” words to aid in the automated transcription, Augmedix relies entirely on natural conversations, Shakil said.

The human component is key to the company’s product, said Shakil, who added that AI is unlikely to move people totally out of the translation loop. Even as AI advances, humans will still need to check and potentially edit the notes taken during natural-language conversations.

“We think that’s the only rational way forward,” Shakil said.

Augmedix has many competitors in the field of reducing physician burnout caused by clinical documentation and notetaking. There are large public companies like Nuance that are developing new exam room experiences where the doctor can concentrate on the patient while AI in the background can complete a large chunk of the documentation  “hearing” physicians.

Then there’s Notable Health, which is developed an app for the Apple Watch, to help physicians by recording their voice. The microphone captures information even if the physician is not directly speaking into the phone. It can track dictations and orders, as well as recommend the appropriate billing codes. And there’s also Suki, that leverages AI, like most of these tech solutions, to power a voice assistant that helps doctors with documentation.

Photo: bayhayalet, Getty Images

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