Healthcare Voice Assistant Startup Raises $20 Million
Despite starting in the consumer space, Suki startup founders Punit Soni, former chief product officer of Flipkart, and Karthik Rajan, former SalesForce VP, looked to the healthcare space for their next venture. The two founders have raised $20 million in financing for their healthcare voice assistant called Suki, with funding from Venrock, First Round Capital, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and other investors. Suki is also the name of the company’s AI-enabled voice assistant, which aims to decrease the amount of time doctors spend taking notes and on data entry by hand by giving them a voice-first alternative. This is a very tangible problem in healthcare today, as recent data has shown that doctors spend twice as much time transcribing data as they do with their own patients.
More Than Speech Transcription
Suki is more than a speech transcription tool however. The medical assistant is currently in pilot phase and gets to know each doctor it works with to provide more intelligent answers beyond speech transcription. For instance, Suki can search and find patient information, take action items from a conversation between a doctor and a patient and order prescriptions just to name a few. “We aren’t here to build a medical transcription company, but in a world where my car can drive me home on autopilot, is it really going to be the case that five to six years from now doctors are jotting things down in front of patients?” Soni told Pitchbook. “No, they are going to be using something that is invisible and assistive.”
The Healthcare Voice Assistant Race Heats Up
Similar to how Google and Amazon are competing to be the voice assistant of choice for consumers, companies like Suki, Nuance and IPsoft are racing to become the premier voice assistant for healthcare providers. Nuance launched the Dragon Virtual Assistant in October which aims to streamline clinical workflows for healthcare providers who already use its Dragon Medical solution. IPsoft introduced a healthcare virtual assistant of its own, also last fall. The Amelia Health Agent uses artificial intelligence to address problems across the entire industry, from insurers to patients to facilitate communication and save time.
Federal regulations and the complexity of healthcare itself have long held back the industry from operational improvement most companies enjoy today. Companies like Suki, Nuance and IPsoft are looking to change that with artificial intelligence and voice assistants. “I wanted to do something where I could go home every day and feel like I was adding value to society. I thought, a person from a consumer background with a relatively naive take on healthcare initially might have a fresh take on it, and then I realized how much money was being wasted on transcription services and other ways of automating data entry,” commented Soni.