Saykara wants to reduce physician burn out with its AI voice assistant

Physician burnout has emerged as a growing problem in the healthcare industry as administrative requirements have become an overwhelming part of everyday medical practice.

Seattle-based startup Saykara was founded to ease the documentation process for clinicians using AI-based voice recognition program that can be used to create clinical notes and push them to the EHR.

Started in 2015 by Harjinder Sandhu, who previously sold his speech recognition company to Nuance Communications, Saykara has raised around $7.5 million in its effort to create a more automated system for clinical notation.

Sandhu said the company has tracked around a 70 percent reduction in the time spent by physicians on documentation-related tasks by eliminating additional work like after-hour charting.

Recently the company unveiled an ambient mode that is able to listen to contextual clues and record important clinical notes without the use of a “wake word” to engage the technology.

“The platform is seamlessly listening in and figuring out what points you’re actually conveying,” Sandhu said.

Sandhu said the feature works best in routine visits or in a primary care setting where a lot of information is being exchanged that a clinician would like to record without interrupting the flow of conversation.

Like many AI companies, Saykara relies on human reviewers as part of its model who are able to correct and train the company’s algorithm to improve its ability to glean information in clinical settings.

Dr. Michael Fletcher, the chief medical officer of Hancock Regional Hospital in Greenfield Indiana, said he started using Saykara a few months ago and immediately saw the advantages over the hospital’s previous speech recognition software.

“The value as I see it is that I can practice like I used to, where I can walk in and see patients and talk into a device and later review the quality of the note and make adjustments,” Fletcher said.

Outside of the ease-of-use of the technology and an improvement in the quality of clinical notes, Fletcher identified a few other positives since switching to Saykara. For one, he said that patients appreciate the transparency that comes from dictating clinical notes in front of patients who are immediately able to step in and correct the record if necessary.

In his role as a hospital administrator, Fletcher added the implementation of Saykara has freed up doctors to work with more patients if they choose so and has eased some of the perennial concern over retention and recruitment issues caused by burnout.

In a testament to the scale of the problem, the 30-person startup has plenty of competition both from fellow startups like Suki and Notable Health, as well as larger technology companies like Microsoft and Nuance.

In differentiating his company’s product, Sandhu pointed to the company’s lack of reliance on medical scribes and the ability of its technology to understand conversations contextually.

When it comes to business strategy, the company is focused on rolling out its product in larger health systems by touting its ability to work across a range of specialties. Saykara currently has around 20 health system and medical group customers including Providence St. Joseph Health, MultiCare and Providence Swedish Medical Group.

In sketching out his broader vision for the company, Sandhu said he aims to turn Saykara into a “intelligent clinical assistant” not helping with clinical documentation, but utilizing that information to help doctors better gather data from patients, aid in the diagnostic process and surface contextually relevant information at the right time.

EIPCathy GuoComment