Emerging Technology in Clinical Documentation - Cover

Emerging Technology in Clinical Documentation

The clinical documentation market is full of a wide spectrum of different 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 for you.

To get a better feel for what some of these emerging technologies are doing, KLAS is publishing Spotlight reports on some of the emerging players in the space. Though there are more vendors we are currently researching in this market, to date KLAS has looked at two vendors that are solving these issues in unique ways: Augmedix and Suki.

The Augmedix Solution

Augmedix’s documentation approach is a hybrid of an at-the-elbow human scribe and technology. 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% 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 watching this video or reading their Emerging Technology Spotlight.

The Suki Solution

On the other end of the documentation spectrum from Augmedix is Suki, which is all technology based with no human interaction. Of the five providers we spoke to, four were highly satisfied, and one was satisfied. So, the overall satisfaction from these early users looks good. We thought it was interesting too just how quickly the solution could be implemented and used. Every person we interviewed said that they saw outcomes almost immediately. Suki claims that their solution can be up and running in 10 minutes or less, and all of their customers confirmed this.

The solution is ambient technology, so it’s documenting on the smartphone while the physician has a more face-to-face conversation. Another benefit that providers mention is that Suki is allowing physicians to close out documentation and still get home at a reasonable hour, and that reduces pajama time.

There is some concern about Suki’s rapid growth. We were able to verify at the time of our Spotlight report 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, or this video.

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 the form on this page

     Photo credit: Adobe Stock, sodawhiskey