Startups, Health IT

Former Flipkart CPO’s new company uses AI voice assistant to help doctors with documentation

The startup, Suki, has a product that enables a physician to speak about a patient’s appointment. The tool, which can be integrated into an EMR, then documents what the doctor says.

voice, sound, speech

Punit Soni openly admits his background doesn’t have anything to do with healthcare. Instead, he has spent his career in the consumer and mobile sectors, working for organizations like Google and Motorola. He also served as chief product officer of Flipkart, an e-commerce company.

But when he decided to start his own startup, Soni wanted to branch into something new.

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“I wanted to go home every day and feel like I was adding value to society,” he said in a recent phone interview. “Healthcare definitely seems like a place where you can make a dent.”

The company he and his cofounder Karthik Rajan created is Suki, which leverages artificial intelligence to power a voice assistant that helps doctors with clinical documentation. Through the tool, the physician can speak about a patient’s needs during or after an appointment. Suki then documents what the doctor says. The product can be integrated into an EMR.

Suki is personalized to each physician and gets smarter as the clinician uses it.

Currently, Suki has 12 pilots within plastic surgery, internal medicine, ophthalmology and orthopedics practices in California and Georgia. The tool is used across three EHR systems.

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Soni mentioned the startup plans to break into a few more surgical specialties going forward. Though it is working with smaller groups right now, Soni also said the company also eventually hopes to scale up and be used at larger enterprise health systems.

Soni said the healthcare industry is beginning to rethink technology. Ideally, the tech should not be intrusive but should be available when a doctor wants it. “Products like Suki are probably the earliest manifestation of that,” he said.

The Redwood City, California company has raised a total of $20 million, which includes a $15 million Series A round led by Venrock. First Round, Social Capital, Marc Benioff and Flatiron Health’s Nat Turner have also contributed to the company’s funding.

In addition to bringing in investors, Soni wanted to ensure the startup had clinical experts. Dr. Nathan Gunn and Dr. Erin Palm came on board to fulfill that need.

Looking a year down the road, Soni said he hopes to have the Suki product used at a hundred or so sites across various specialties.

But ultimately, he said there’s only one metric of success: “Doctors need to be happy.”

“I am absolutely convinced that one of the biggest issues in healthcare is we have lost sight of the user and what their issues are,” Soni added. “I will fail and succeed on the philosophy that my company will be in service of the doctor.”

Photo: iunewind, Getty Images