The name of the company is Saykara, and it appears to be tackling a very interesting problem: The use of artificial intelligence in healthcare. We stumbled across Saykara in a SEC filing today, which noted that the company has secured 2.5 million in venture funding. In an email to GeekWire, CEO Harjinder Sandhu confirmed the funding amount, and noted that Madrona Venture Group is the primary investor. "We are a healthcare startup looking to leverage machine intelligence to reshape the way physicians interact with medical systems," Sandhu said via email. He said the company is in the early-stages of development, and was choosing to stay in "stealth mode."
Artificial intelligence has been around for half a century, but it has only recently become a real player in the healthcare space. Harjinder Sandhu, the CEO and founder of SayKara, says that's all down to data. "The data never really existed" for AI to take off, Sandhu said on a panel about AI and the future of healthcare at the 2018 GeekWire Summit. "In healthcare specifically, if you look back 20 years, virtually every medical record was on paper." Sandhu was joined on stage by Michael Calhoun, CEO and co-founder of medical imaging analysis company Mindshare Medical, and Anisha Sood, a partner at Echo Health Ventures.
"Siri, where is the nearest Starbucks?" "Suki, let's get Mr. Jones a two-week run of clarithromycin and schedule him back here for a follow-up in two weeks." Doesn't sound that crazy, does it? For years, voice assistants have been changing the way people shop, get around, and manage their home entertainment systems. Now they're starting to show up someplace even a little more personal: the doctor's office.
When trying to figure out what to do after an extensive career at Google, Motorola, and Flipkart, Punit Soni decided to spend a lot of time sitting in doctors' offices to figure out what to do next. It was there that Soni said he figured out one of the most annoying pain points for doctors in any office: writing down notes and documentation. That's why he decided to start Suki -- previously Robin AI -- to create a way for doctors to simply start talking aloud to take notes when working with patients, rather than having to put everything into a medical record system, or even writing those notes down by hand. That seemed like the lowest hanging fruit, offering an opportunity to make it easier for doctors that see dozens of patients to make their lives significantly easier, he said. "We decided we had found a powerful constituency who were burning out because of just documentation," Soni said.
Physician burnout is one of the most serious conditions in today's medical profession. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality defines the condition as "a long-term stress reaction caused by emotional exhaustion [and] depersonalization," among other factors. According to the American Medical Association, physicians suffer from considerable stress caused by facets of their job that have little to do with actually providing personalized patient care. The AMA reports that physicians spend up to six hours daily working with electronic health records (EHRs) to adhere to government and hospital documentation requirements. That's six hours not spent seeing patients, and thus not having the time to listen carefully and diagnose, empathize, hold a hand, speak with family members, or explain conditions and next steps.