Healthcare News This Week| October 7, 2019
Robin Healthcare raises $11.5 million for its digital doctor’s assistant
Robin Healthcare, a health technology company providing a digital assistant service combining human and artificial intelligence (AI) to help physicians deal with paperwork, announced September 18th that it had raised $11.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Norwest Venture Partners. Robin’s total funding reached $15 million. The new money came at the same time partnerships with several leading academic and private medical practices were announced. In addition, Robin Healthcare named Tom Gruber, co-founder and former Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Siri, as a formal advisor.
More than half of medical staff face burnout because of bureaucratic burdens
Physician burden is a critical issue affecting the medical profession in the U.S. Since red-tape seems to be a very large part of the problem, many specialists are trying to use artificial intelligence to help reduce paperwork or simply lower costs by performing some tasks electronically instead of the doctors and nurses. Suki, a startup that makes an AI-powered and voice-enabled digital assistant for doctors is a very similar company. Last May, it acquired $20 million in funding. Its AI-driven voice assistant was processing more than 1,000 patient interactions per week in October 2018.
Another startup using voice technology to help health providers manage workloads is Notable. The AI powered smartwatch for doctors launched last year. It automatically links doctors to electronic health records (EHR).
Robin’s platform helps relieve the daily burden doctors face of finding time to fill in clinical documentation and conduct administrative work. For every patient they are attending, physicians now spend an average of two hours on paperwork and screen time. This prevents them from seeing more patients and usually means they have to take work home with them in the evenings. As a result, more than 50% of doctors are experiencing burnout.
A solution to help doctors face the administrative tasks
Robin Assistant is a HIPAA-compliant device. Placed in the exam room, it writes high-quality, fully billable clinical notes using the audio and optional video recording of a physician’s natural interaction with patients. Robin does not need wake words or specialized vocabulary, dictation or any other special change to the workflow. Using ambient Conversational Speech Recognition, the platform blends cutting-edge AI technology with quality assurance by trained healthcare staff to produce doctors’ notes. These are integrated directly with electronic medical records and all patient data is safely encrypted. After the consultation, physicians using Robin Assistant need only review and sign their notes. This significantly reduces the time for paperwork and increase time available to actually see patients, so their work gives them more satisfaction.
“With Robin, doctors are free to focus on their patients rather than computer screens and get a note that’s actually useful,” said Noah Auerhahn, Co-Founder and CEO of Robin. “Using natural language processing, machine learning, and human-centered design, Robin is re-conceptualizing clinical documentation and making health information more effective. This new infusion of capital will help us forge a path toward eliminating administrative overhead for doctors and improving patient care. Furthermore, Robin’s ongoing relationships with premier institutions accelerates product development cycles, allowing us to deliver more value to clinicians and health systems.”
Casper de Clercq, Partner at Norwest Venture Partners, said “Robin has the clinical, technical industry, and technical heft needed to streamline physician documentation and alleviate burnout. We see a growth opportunity and are delighted to invest in Robin.”
Plans for future developments and acquiring new clients
The startup based in Berkeley, CA will use the new money to further develop its product and expand business by building relationships with more provider organizations. Some of these partnerships have already been announced as part of the funding news, the organizations Robin will work with include Duke University Medical Center’s Private Diagnostic Clinic and University of California, San Francisco Medical Center.
“This new infusion of capital will help us forge a path toward eliminating administrative overhead for doctors and improving patient care,” Noah Auerhahn, co-founder and CEO of Robin, said in a statement. “Furthermore, Robin’s ongoing relationships with premier institutions accelerate product development cycles, allowing us to deliver more value to clinicians and health systems.”
Major academic and private physician practices have become Robin’s customers and partners. These include the following (presented in alphabetical order):
- Camellia ENT, an otolaryngology practice in Louisiana;
- Campbell Clinic, a large academic surgery practice in Tennessee;
- Central Coast Orthopedic Medical Group, a large practice in California;
- Duke University Medical Center‘s Private Diagnostic Clinic, the independent, multi-specialty physician practice of Duke Health;
- Muir Orthopaedic Specialists, a large practice in Northern California;
- Orthopedic Associates P.A., a practice group in New Mexico;
- Peak Orthopedics & Spine, a division of Orthopedic Centers of Colorado;
- University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center, an academic health system in California; and
- Webster Orthopedics, a large practice in Northern California.
Other good news for the company is the inclusion of Tom Gruber as a formal advisor on the Robin team. At Apple for more than eight years, Gruber was co-founder, CTO, and head of design for the team that created Siri, the intelligent assistant. “We’re thrilled to have Tom join our Advisory Board. His wealth of experience and proven track record in AI and smart assistants will be invaluable to Robin as we continue to expand our industry-leading digital assistant to doctors and patients nationwide,” added Auerhahn.