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Q&A: How Ambient Documentation Changes Vendor Workload


Based in San Francisco Augmedix has grown from a Google Glass-based clinical documentation startup to a publicly traded, AI-enabled ambient automation platform that documents patient encounters and generates medical notes that can be uploaded to a EHR.

The company, founded in 2012, also offers pre-visit and post-visit documentation offerings to give providers a more complete digital picture of a patient’s healthcare journey.

Ian Shakil, Founder, Director and Chief Strategy Officer at Augmedix, spoke with MobiHealthNews to discuss the evolution of the business and the planned release of a new product in 2023.

MobiHealthNews: Can you tell me about Augmedix and how it works in the ambient documentation space?

Ian Shakil: I started the business about 10 years ago with a mission to re-humanize the provider/patient interaction. Originally, we only ran on Google Glass. What we did it’s that we put technology at the point of care where providers and patients have conversations. What we To do do we ambiently listen to these organic, chaotic, non-linear conversations in the exam room. And in the background, we produce EHR ratings better and faster than what the supplier would do on their own.

Over the years, the product has evolved a lot. Now most of our vendors actually use phones on stands or on lanyards and yes we have come a long way. Today we serve 20 corporate health systems. Last year we Publicly listed. We’re on NASDAQ, and we’ve grown by leaps and bounds.

MNH: When you think about how EHRs were done before, there were medical transcriptionists who helped put the documentation together and the providers often dictated. Does the ability to have an EHR done in a more automated way alleviate vendor burnout?

Shakil: In fact, I think it’s getting worse. Yes, there is a small story arc on how documentation solutions have evolved. Originally, doctors would do their dictation into their dictaphones, or these unusual devices, and it literally went to a human transcriber. There would be a multi-day turnaround, and they would return that note verbatim.

What is different from our solution and others too, we are voice solutions. We operate at room temperature. In other words, we do the documentation of the EHR with structured data directly in the EHR that the provider uses from the conversation already in progress. So when the tour is over, you’re done.

But to double click on one of the things you said, we still have humans in the loop. We call them MDS, or Medical Documentation Specialists. It is always imperative that we have these humans doing the last mile structuring so that what is waiting in the EMR is just ready to be signed.

MNH: It seems like humans would be quite necessary as the AI ​​doesn’t understand all the medical terminology at this point. Medical records must be accurate.

Shakil: 100%. if it’s not [accurate], the vendor then spends more time going back and restructuring, which ends up causing more trouble than it’s worth. And to hell with that, I’m just gonna write my own note. So you can think of it like having Uber and then gravitating towards a driverless car solution. We’re on the way, but we realize it’s going to take a lot of mastery of workflows and data, and just exponential machine learning modeling to get to that Nirvana place we’re all heading towards.

But we have another solution that we’re testing in alpha and we call it Augmedix Go, and it’s a pure AI solution. And a significant number of vendors, we hope next year will be able to adopt it with very good workflows that fit our models. So I think over time we’re going to see some adoption, but it’s going to take years for widespread use of our pure AI solution. This is my forecast.

In addition, [Augmedix is] really advance our partnership with Google, and we are listed on their marketplace. They actually do a good job of not only helping us with engineering technology and Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), but forging a distribution partnership with us and helping us sell into healthcare systems. It’s very interesting to see the big tech companies getting involved in this space.


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