The clinical documentation market includes a wide spectrum of solutions and vendors trying to solve a singular problem: physician burnout. Through the widespread use of EHRs, we have gained some huge benefits in healthcare. However, we also face huge challenges.
Ever since the introduction of EHRs, the burden of legislation and documentation on the physicians’ shoulders has increased. Physicians meet with a patient and attempt to document every piece while the personal, one-on-one interaction with that patient suffers. That creates what we call the ‘swivel chair problem,’ where the patient is frustrated because he or she doesn’t feel as listened to, and the physicians are frustrated because they miss the personal connections that they used to enjoy with their patients.
The ways that vendors and health systems have tried to combat this issue varies across the spectrum. One end has another person, usually a medical student, as a scribe in the room. At the other end is an app installed on a phone that transcribes the conversation.
To get a better feel for what some of these emerging technologies are doing, KLAS is publishing Spotlight reports on some of the players in the space. Though there are more vendors we are currently researching in this market, to date, KLAS has looked at two that are solving these issues in unique ways: Augmedix and Suki.
The Augmedix Solution
Augmedix’s documentation approach is a hybrid of technology and an at-the-elbow human scribe. Using natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence (AI), Augmedix provides a real-time patient encounter via a virtual scribe. It is ambient technology that can go two ways; the virtual scribe can ask clarifying questions and make sure that everything is documented correctly. The other interesting technology play from Augmedix is their integration with Google Glass. While using Google Glass is not required to work with Augmedix, we found that about 20 percent of their clinicians are using it and having some success with it.
Augmedix customers are telling us that they’re seeing shorter documentation times and improved physician life balance. If you can reduce documentation time, healthcare organizations can then frequently reduce physician burnout to some degree. The other interesting benefit is the increased throughput that providers are seeing. It’s not necessarily about seeing more patients but being able to have richer conversations with patients while still getting the necessary documentation done.
Alongside those benefits, there are some challenges to be aware of. The solution is very Wi-Fi dependent at this point and may be more expensive than other ambient technologies out there. Some of the providers expressed a desire to have more clinical expertise on the Augmedix staff.
To learn more about Augmedix, we recommend reading their Emerging Technology Spotlight.
The Suki Solution
On the other end of the documentation spectrum is Suki, which is completely technology based with no human interaction. Of the five providers we spoke to, four were highly satisfied, and one was satisfied.
We found it interesting too just how quickly the solution could be implemented and used. Every person we interviewed said they saw outcomes almost immediately. Suki claims that their solution can be up and running in 10 minutes or less, which was confirmed by all of their customers.
The solution uses ambient technology; it’s documenting on the smartphone while the physician has a more face-to-face conversation. Another benefit providers identified is that Suki allows them to close out documentation and still get home at a reasonable hour.
There is, however, some concern about Suki’s rapid growth. At the time of our Spotlight report, we verified that they had somewhere between 12 and 20 customers, though a recent Forbes article stated they currently have 85. That is pretty rapid growth.
The other concern is the need for more EMRs to be integrated. Suki currently works with Cerner, Epic, Elation Health, and eClinicalWorks. However, Suki has assured us that they’re working on additional integrations.
To read more about Suki, check out their Spotlight report on the KLAS website.
Other Emerging Technology Projects
We’ll be looking at a number of other clinical documentation solutions over the next few months, so be on the lookout for more Spotlight reports. If you know of an innovative, disruptive, or emerging solution that KLAS should be looking at, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by filling out this form.