Health IT, Hospitals

Health systems join $17M investment in Augmedix

Among those providers investing undisclosed amounts are Sutter Health and Dignity Health from Augmedix’s home turf in Northern California, plus Englewood, Colorado-based Catholic Health Initiatives and Cincinnati-based TriHealth.

Augmedix doctor-patient

Augmedix, a startup offering a Google Glass app and back-end service for capturing clinical documentation, has landed $17 million in new venture capital, including investments from several major health systems.

Among those providers investing undisclosed amounts are Sutter Health and Dignity Health from Augmedix’s home turf in Northern California, plus Englewood, Colorado-based Catholic Health Initiatives and Cincinnati-based TriHealth. Redmile Group led the investment round, according to Augmedix.

Dignity Health is a previous investor in Augmedix, which now has raised about $40 million since its inception. “They’ve all been longtime users,” Augmedix CEO Ian Shakil said of the health systems.

Augmedix will use the new money to help scale its labor-intensive service, Shakil noted. “We have teams of humans on the back end,” he said.

As physicians examine patients while wearing Google Glass — or any other brand of “smart glass” running the Android operating system —the Augmedix app can capture what they see and what they say. The humans on the back end then turn clinician observation into documentation in the electronic health record, kind of like a scribe or transcriptionist.

“It’s absolutely a virtual scribe,” said Dr. Albert Chan, vice president and chief of digital patient experience at Sutter Health. “I actually call it a virtual assistant.”

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Sutter, of Sacramento, California, has about two dozen Google Glass/Augmedix users now, including Chan, a family practitioner. Sutter soon will have 70 physicians on the system. “It allows us to more accurately document the patient encounter,” Chan said.

“We have found that the notes are much richer and more detailed” with Augmedix than with physicians typing or clicking directly into the EHR. The technology also helps improve communication with patients because it captures the doctor’s instructions as an audio or video file, Chan added.

As for the decision to invest in Augmedix, “One of our strategies is to partner with innovative companies that improve the patient experience,” Chan said.

It likewise is intended to improve the physician experience.  Shakil said that Augmedix and Google Glass can save doctors 2-3 hours a day in charting time.