The company is working with the hospital system to help physicians have an easier time with documenting patient encounters. The firm’s CEO sees potential beyond documentation.
Manny Krakaris is enjoying the moment.
Krakaris is the CEO of Augmedix, a healthcare technology company focused on ambient medical documentation. Augmedix has been working on a pilot program with HCA Healthcare and Google Cloud to use artificial intelligence to enable doctors to easily produce medical records. The San Francisco company’s latest ambient documentation product, Augmedix Go, uses Google’s generative AI technology.
The program involves 75 emergency department doctors at four HCA hospitals. Using an Augmedix app on a hands-free device, the technology records physician-patient encounters and extracts non-clinical conversation and other ambient noise to produce medical notes. After the doctor reviews the notes, the physician can transfer the information to the patient’s electronic health records.
HCA announced the partnership with Augmedix and Google last week and said the early results are promising. The Nashville-based healthcare organization is looking to use the technology in more of the system’s hospitals. Augmedix also said Wednesday that the company plans to offer its Augmedix Go product to behavioral health providers later this year.
In an interview with Chief Healthcare Executive®, Krakaris says the HCA pilot program’s early success has been gratifying. He says he hopes the technology can help doctors focus on patients and reduce some of the headaches in documentation, a leading contributor to burnout among physicians.
“Our founding philosophy has always been to rehumanize healthcare by seeing the patient, not the technology,” Krakaris says.
Technology can overwhelm patient encounters, with doctors focusing on documentation, and that can affect the quality of care, or at least the patient’s perception of the visit, he adds.
“I'd rather, and we believe clinicians feel the same way, that they have the ability to refocus all of their attention on the patient and not have to worry about technology getting in the way,” Krakaris says.
HCA is an investor in Augmedix. In April, Augmedix announced that HCA and Redmile Group, LLC, a healthcare investor in San Francisco, has provided Augmedix with about $12 million in financing.
Krakaris says HCA has been a “fantastic” partner. He says there’s strong support from the C-suite and the staff that are using the technology.
“Everybody from the top down is completely bought into this and have been incredibly supportive,” Krakaris says. “And the resources that they're dedicated to this are enormous.”
“They have just committed so much of their organization to making sure this works because they want to deploy this system-wide,” he adds.
Physicians are providing good feedback, particularly in dealing with the workflows for doctors in the emergency department, he says. Patients may stay in the department after one doctor’s shift ends, so doctors have offered guidance on dealing with the handoff of patients and ensuring records are updated with the latest notes or lab results.
Perhaps the biggest challenge comes in the ambient noise in the emergency department, Krakaris says. Emergency departments can be chaotic at times, with various voices being heard at any given time, Krakaris says the automatic speech recognition technology is pretty good at identifying differences in voices, but he says there can be challenges if the patient is very soft-spoken.
The company’s technology offers some guardrails to ensure accuracy in records, Krakaris says. When doctors review the notes, they’ll see highlighted words that are flagged because they could be incorrectly transcribed or not of high confidence, allowing the physician to make the necessary changes.
While the technology is good, it isn’t perfect, Krakaris says, so there’s still a need for the final review by the doctor.
“Given what we're asked to do, which is deliver very accurate, comprehensive medical notes, you have to have some human involvement, to make sure that what goes in the record is accurate and comprehensive,” Krakaris says. “And as a result, we make sure that we make that job as easy as possible for the physician.”
While HCA is looking to Augmedix for greater use of ambient AI, Krakaris says he sees potential for the company to offer solutions beyond improving medical documentation.
HCA is looking to Augmedix to serve as “a change agent” for the organization, Krakaris says.
Augmedix technology could be used to send reminders to physicians about the latest protocols for certain conditions, Krakaris says. Doctors wouldn’t have to rely on their memory from the latest annual seminar. The company is also looking at other ways to bring changes to the health system.
“The medical note itself is a massive, massive undertaking and will provide massive benefits, but being positioned as a platform for change throughout an organization is even more strategic and puts us in a very, very strong or powerful position with our customers and one where we can actually make a huge difference,” Krakaris says.
And his enthusiasm for the company’s work with HCA is undeniable.
“We are super, super psyched,” he says. “It's a really good time to be in our business.”