Carle Health teams up with Nabla for AI scribe assistant

Ambient AI scribe company Nabla announced a partnership with Illinois-based Carle Health to implement its AI "copilot" technology into the health system's many hospitals and practices. The partnership expands the AI company’s reach by an additional 1,500 providers.

Nabla said the partnership with Carle also represents an entrance into the Midwestern U.S. healthcare market, where some have said it’s harder to convince providers to adopt new technologies. Nabla executives said this hasn’t been the case. 

Carle runs hospitals and practices across Illinois, Indiana, Washington and North Carolina. It also has provider-driven health insurance plans, a medical school and a clinical research institute. Nabla will be rolled out across practices, including in some emergency departments. 

Carle employs 80 types of specialists. One of the Nabla AI scribe's preeminent features is its custom training in subspecialties to accurately transcribe terms in various specialties and pick up on clinical shorthand, Nabla told Fierce Healthcare. The scribe is also flexible and customizable, executives noted.

Nabla Chief Operating Officer Delphine Groll said the highly customizable note has won over many providers. A new feature called Magic Edit rolled out in March allows providers to further customize the format of the AI-generated clinical note to their liking. 

It also prides itself on its integration with electronic health record companies Epic, athenahealth, Oracle’s Cerner, NextGen, Arya Health and Greenway Health. 

“It's more having a very dedicated support team, implementation team, integration team, engineering team, working hand in hand with the health system and with physicians coming from the health system and gathering very good feedback to have a good reputation in the market,” Groll said. “I feel the race now is to demonstrate which product is the best.”

Nabla’s partnership with Carle is one of its first few enterprise contracts, which it intentionally held off on until recently. 

Nabla has taken the approach of Slack and DropBox and offers a free version of its AI assistant directly to users who can use it for up to 30 encounters per month. Nabla CEO Alexandre Lebrun said the strategy has led them to not only thousands of physician advocates who use the platform on their own but also contracts with the physicians' employing health systems to unlock greater encounter capacity. 

“I sold my first startup to Nuance, so I know their sales distribution network is very strong,” Lebrun said. “We cannot beat them if we have the same strategy. And so we looked at things like Slack or Dropbox … pushing the product to the users directly.”

In addition to taking the products directly to providers' computers, the company has also been engaging with midsize clinics and has conducted pilots at larger facilities.

Nabla now has contracts with The Permanente Medical Group, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Stratum Med and the Mankato Clinic and is deployed in more than 40 health organizations. 

The approach has given them a recurring source of feedback from physicians. The company also got ample provider input while it was creating the product. When the company first began five years ago, it ran a digital clinic in the U.K. serving 30,000 patients and employing 50 healthcare professionals. Lebrun said the clinic helped the company understand what providers need in an AI assistant rather than what engineers thought providers needed. 

Nabla has also been built to seamlessly integrate with telehealth platforms. Lebrun said Nabla is always trying to integrate as much as possible into an organization’s existing system. It builds out Chrome extensions so that the AI assistant can listen in on the telehealth visit through whichever telehealth platform the organization uses, executives said.

In January, the company picked up $24 million in series B funding to boost expansion across U.S. health systems and the launch of additional language options. The series B was led by Cathay Innovation and Zebox. Nabla has raised more than $43 million to date.