• Suki Clinical Digital Assistant Greatly Reduces EHR Documentation Time and Burden for Family Physicians

    Tuesday, June 30, 2020

    Megan Moriarty
    Public Relations Strategist
    (800) 274-2237, Ext. 6052

    LEAWOOD, Kan. — It’s no secret that physicians hate the administrative burden that comes with their electronic health record. The technology wasn’t originally designed with their workflow in mind, and as a result many family physicians see it as an impediment to patient care, putting a computer in that sacred space between them and their patient. The documentation burden associated with EHRs is one of the top concerns of family physicians, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians’ annual Member Satisfaction Survey.

    “The family medicine experience is based on a deep patient-physician interaction that requires support from technology. Today’s EHRs have greatly eroded the experience rather than enhancing it,” said Steven Waldren, MD, MS, AAFP vice president and chief medical informatics officer. “The vision is to help family physicians care for patients while using health IT that works for them, not against them.”

    In order to address the frustration of EHR documentation burden, the AAFP established an Innovation Laboratory last year to test emerging artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that can address family physicians’ top challenges.

    “Our Innovation Lab is partnering with industry to drive innovation with the latest proven advanced technologies: cloud, AI/ML, voice and mobile technologies, to optimize the family medicine experience,” said Waldren.

    The AAFP has now completed the first pilot program as part of the Innovation Lab, with dramatic and promising results. Suki, an AI-powered, voice-enabled digital assistant for doctors, showed 100 percent of physician users saw time savings and a dramatic increase in satisfaction with notes completion, efficiency and EHR use for other administrative tasks. Suki uses AI, machine learning, and natural language processing to complete administrative workflows, such as creating clinically accurate notes and retrieving patient information from the EHR. Physicians speak naturally, without having to memorize rote commands, and Suki accurately understands and completes their tasks.

    “Suki was chosen for the first pilot for several reasons. The company was founded with the goal of helping physicians spend more time caring for patients and less time on administrative tasks. Increasing physician job satisfaction is the ultimate goal of our Innovation Lab,” said Waldren. “The company is actively and successfully marketing to primary care and family medicine, and the solution didn’t require any new hardware for the physicians who tested it in practice.”

    Pilot results were compelling with a 62 percent decrease in documentation time per patient, a 51 percent decrease in documentation time during clinic, and a 70 percent decrease in after-hours charting. Physicians described how the digital assistant allowed them to see their patients and complete their documentation without feeling rushed or having to work after hours. Several physicians described this impact as a “breakthrough” in their practices. Full results and analysis are available in a white paper on the pilot.

    “We are thrilled with the pilot results and excited to roll out Suki to a larger cohort of doctors,” said Nathan Gunn, MD, chief operating officer of Suki. “The AAFP and Suki are mission-aligned on lifting the administrative burden from physicians, especially in primary care where the burden falls disproportionately.”

    “Digital assistants like Suki show great promise as an essential technology to optimize the family medicine experience,” said Waldren. “In these initial results, physicians recovered time and focus previously lost to clerical burden. The reduction in time and urgency dramatically reduced after-hours work at home and reduced physician burnout.” 

    “The limited number of pilot participants in this initial study is a limitation,” Waldren notes, “but the results do demand further and broader study.” The next step is to move the Suki pilot into stage 2 and prove these results with a larger field of physicians.

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    About American Academy of Family Physicians
    Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 130,000 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest medical society devoted solely to primary care. Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits — that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care. To learn more about the specialty of family medicine and the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, visit www.aafp.org. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s consumer website, www.familydoctor.org.