Remote medical note documentation company Augmedix is primed to accelerate product development, such as automation capabilities, and to strategically scale its technology-enabled service across health systems and private clinics nationwide, following the closure of a Series B financing round, where it raised $19 million.
The funding included investment from Redmile Group, McKesson Ventures, DCM Ventures, Wanxiang Healthcare Investments, and other unnamed investors.
Reducing physician burnout
One of Augmedix’s goals is to reduce physician burnout. Some studies note that physicians spend at least two hours behind a computer performing administrative tasks, contributing to physician burnout.
Tom Rodgers, senior vice president and managing director at McKesson Ventures, said they had confidence that Augmedix would deliver on its goal of reducing physician burnout, significantly improving their quality of life.
“Augmedix is uniquely positioned to leverage trained medical documentation experts, increasingly enabled by artificial intelligence, to deliver a consumer-grade experience for the clinician that results in more accurate and timely documentation in the most cost-effective manner possible,” Rodgers said in a statement.
With its platform, Augmedix says physicians could save between two to three hours per day and could increase productivity by up to 15 percent.
Augmedix Chief Executive Officer Manny Krakaris said the Series B funding was a vote of confidence from the startup’s investors.
“Our service is differentiated because it operates in real-time and is enabled by natural conversation, not burdensome single-party dictation. The combination of our proprietary technology and expert teams reliably delivers the highest quality medical notes thus relieving clinicians of that burden,” Krakaris said.
So far, Augmedix has partnered with 15 national health systems, including Sutter Health, CommonSpirit Health, and US Oncology, representing more than 10% of clinicians in the United States. The company says it has more than 1,000 team members worldwide that are focused on developing and delivering the service.
Founder and chairman Ian Shakil said the new funding will enable Augmedix to strategically scale Augmedix across health systems and private clinics across the country.
Humans in the loop and technology
Augmedix turns clinician-patient conversation into medical documentation in real-time. The company does this by providing clinicians with hardware, such as Google Glass or smartphones, to stream a clinic visit to remote specialists. These specialists then turn these conversations into medical documentation.
While other companies deploy artificial intelligence for natural language processing, Shakil insisted that there is a need for human involvement, as AI or software on their own would not be able to carry out the kind of work Augmedix does.
“Augmedix is not a pure software solution; we use human experts on the back-end that do a lot of the heavy-lifting that makes this service possible. Pure AI or pure software without humans in the loop are in no way able to perform a service like this, while allowing a natural conversation between multiple people to take place, and while allowing for an appropriate amount of accuracy,” Shakil told the State of Reform website.
Krakaris was additionally quoted by Crunchbase News saying the company was working on improving operating efficiency with tools that will use AI and machine learning “to harness the vast amounts of audio and text data we generate each week.”
Why burnout is such a major issue
Burnout is a major concern in the healthcare industry, with estimates saying up to 44 percent of physicians were suffering from burnout, which has been described as a public health crisis. Burnout is described as a syndrome involving one or more of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment.
Concerns are that due to burnout, physicians are likely to reduce their work hours or quit the profession altogether. These worries are not without basis.
A report by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Harvard Global Health Institute, the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association (MHA) said burnout has become widespread and is driven by rapid changes in health care and in the doctors’ professional environment.
It is projected that the U.S. will have a deficit of more than 7,000 general surgeons by 2050. In addition, the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts that the U.S. will see a shortage of up to 122,000 physicians by 2032. Among specialists, the report projected a shortage of between 14,300 and 23,400 surgeons.