Punit Soni's Suki raises $15 mn to fuel up voice assistant for doctors

Punit Soni's Suki raises $15 mn to fuel up voice assistant for doctors
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2 May, 2018

California-based Suki, founded by former Flipkart executive, said it has raised $15 million (Rs 100 crore) in a Series A round led by early-stage investor Venrock, to grow its voice assistant for doctors that aims to reduce time spent on medical paperwork. Previously, Venrock had led a $5 million (Rs 33.3 crore) seed round, which brings the company’s total funding to around $20 million (Rs 133 crore).

The $15 million round mentioned above also saw participation from First Round, Social Capital, Nat Turner of Flatiron Health, Marc Benioff of Salesforce, and other individual Googlers and angels.

Pilot projects in the US show that Suki’s voice assistant, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), cuts the amount of time physicians spend on medical notes by up to 60% – leading to better notes and happier doctors, according to the company. By way of comparison, on average, for every hour of face-to-face contact with a patient, physicians spend nearly two additional hours on medical paperwork.

Chief executive Punit Singh Soni, who has worked with Flipkart, Motorola and Google, said the product is like having a voice assistant who knows how you practice. “With Suki, we have created a solution personalised to each doctor, inexpensively scalable, and easy to implement,” he said.

Medical director at OrthoAtlanta, Michael Behr, who has participated in Suki’s pilot project, said, “The AI will dramatically improve a physician’s ability to spend more time with the patient and less time in front of a computer.”

Suki currently has 12 pilot projects within internal medicine, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, and plastic surgery practices in California and Georgia.

Suki claims to improve the accuracy of the data it captures; it says it can search and retrieve patient data like imaging files. Additionally, it says it can distil a doctor’s conversation with a patient into an actionable plan, based on the doctor’s known preferences and clinical practice guidelines.

“There is so much potential in the data collected, but what we need to do is make it easier for doctors to input that data without having to outsource a legion of scribes or buy dictation software that isn’t intelligent. Suki solves that problem,” said Qammer Bokhari, chief medical information officer at Adventist Health System, and a Suki investor.

Suki was founded in 2017 by Soni, most recently former product chief of Flipkart, and Karthik Rajan, who has led infrastructure at Oracle and Salesforce.

Formerly known as Robin AI, Suki aspires to create a new kind of healthcare software stack, one that is invisible to the doctor yet there when he/she needs it.

Suki is among many health-tech startups to have attracted investments recently. Last month, LetsMD raised $1 million (Rs 6.5 crore) in a pre-Series A round led by SRI Capital.

In April 2018, Delhi-based Health Arx Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which operates diabetes management app BeatO, also raised $1.3 million (Rs 8.45 crore) in a round co-led by Blume Ventures and Leo Capital.

In February 2018, clinical research and data analytics startup THB raised $2.1 million (Rs 14 crore) in a round that saw participation from early-stage investor Blume Ventures, healthcare-focused venture capital firm Healthquad, and others.