HIMSS23: HCA Healthcare pilot testing Augmedix's medical speech recognition tech in ERs

CHICAGO—More AI news is coming out of the HIMSS 2023 conference.

HCA Healthcare is pilot testing Augmedix's voice-enabled medical dictation software in two hospital emergency departments with plans to expand the tech partnership.

The hospital giant is collaborating with Augmedix to advance the development of AI-powered ambient documentation products for acute care clinicians to help streamline hospital workflows, the companies said in a press release.

HCA Healthcare currently is testing out the company's technology stack, which includes automatic speech recognition technology and natural processing algorithms, in two ERs and plans to expand the pilot in emergency departments in two additional hospitals in the first half of the year.

Augmedix's technology converts natural clinician-patient conversations into medical notes that physicians and nurses can review and finalize before the documents are transferred into providers' electronic health record systems. 

San Francisco-based Augmedix has transitioned from a Google Glass-based clinical documentation startup to a publicly traded, AI-enabled ambient automation platform that documents doctor-patient visits and generates medical notes. Founded in 2013, the company has focused on addressing the time-consuming task of documenting medical visits by using natural language processing technology to generate medical notes faster.

Along with the partnership, Augmedix secured $12 million of new equity from HCA Healthcare and institutional healthcare investor Redmile Group at $1.60 per share through the issuance of a combination of new common shares and pre-funded warrants.

The company, which went public via a SPAC deal in 2021, reported $31 million in revenue in 2022, up 40% from $22 million in 2021. 

Augmedix posted a net loss of $24 million in 2022 and said the equity raise will enable the company to achieve positive cash flow without additional financing.

"This equity issuance is expected to be our last before Augmedix reaches cash flow sustainability. Having a global healthcare leader like HCA Healthcare as a strategic partner helps validate our technology and approach to address the pervasive documentation challenge in the acute care setting,” said Augmedix CEO Manny Krakaris in a statement.

The company expects to reach cash flow breakeven by the end of 2024 with the capital and liquidity now on its balance sheet, Krakaris said.

Augmedix shares were up 60% to $2.88 after the company announced the partnership and the strategic financing. The stock hit its 52-week high of $3.43 earlier in the session and is up 10% in the past 12 months, according to MarketWatch.

The partnership with HCA Healthcare marks the expansion of Augmedix's tech into hospital inpatient settings.

“Augmedix first brought to market the practice of ambient documentation in the ambulatory setting, and we can’t imagine a better innovation partner than HCA Healthcare to bring ambient documentation to the acute care setting," said Ian Shakil, Augmedix director, chief strategy officer and founder, in a statement.

The company's technology has the potential to revolutionize the way documentation occurs at the point of care, said Michael J. Schlosser, M.D., senior vice president for HCA Healthcare’s department of care transformation and innovation.

The partnership and investment are part of HCA's broader strategy to use technology to support its physicians and nurses and enhance patient care, he noted.

Schlosser adds the pilot testing is an example of HCA Healthcare’s strategy of working closely with clinicians to design and integrate innovative technology into patient care. “This Augmedix proof-of-concept is not a complete solution, which is by design. We are capturing direct feedback from and ongoing collaboration with physicians and nurses to mold and develop the solution to meet their needs.”

During the pilot, HCA Healthcare plans to gather data—including critical physician, nurse and patient feedback—to determine the potential for use at additional HCA Healthcare hospitals.

Augmedix says its technology is being used by more than 20 health systems and claims its remote medical scribe services can save clinicians two to three hours per day while increasing productivity by as much as 20%. The company is currently delivering over 50,000 notes to customers each week, according to an investor presentation.

The market for AI-based ambient technology for medical documentation is becoming a competitive battlefield.

In March, Microsoft-owned Nuance Communications unveiled its latest voice-enabled medical scribe application integrated with OpenAI's GPT-4

Nuance says the new application, Dragon Ambient eXperience (DAX) Express, is the first fully automated clinical documentation application to combine conversational and ambient AI with the advanced reasoning and natural language capabilities of OpenAI’s GPT-4.

Oracle, which now owns health IT company Cerner after its $28 billion acquisition, has signaled plans to modernize the Cerner Millennium EHR with a voice digital assistant user interface.

Beyond clinical documentation, many tech companies are building out voice recognition and conversational AI solutions for healthcare. 

At HIMSS 2023 this week, Innovaccer unveiled a conversational AI assistant and other new solutions aimed at providers. The AI assistant, dubbed Sara, generates complex analytic insights about population health data via humanlike responses.

And Amazon is getting into voice tech for healthcare. The tech giant also announced during the HIMSS global conference a new suite of features tailored for providers using Alexa-enabled experiences at scale for hospitals. The features are part of Alexa Smart Properties for Healthcare, which provides device fleet management of Alexa-enabled devices to help reduce administrative burdens at hospitals.