Photo of Suki workers
Employees at Suki's California headquarters. (Suki)

Suki is a winner of FierceHealthcare's Fierce 15 awards. See our other honorees here

It’s been said that the best innovative products start with a problem that needs to be solved. In Suki’s case, that problem is physician burnout, which has become an epidemic in U.S. healthcare.

Photo of Punit Singh Soni
Punit Singh Soni (Suki)

Consumers have Alexa. Physicians have Suki, a voice-enabled, artificial intelligence-powered clinical digital assistant.

With up to 70% of physicians saying they experience some level of burnout, and that the primary reason is due to the massive amounts of administrative work they face, Suki wants to be their solution. The company’s mission is to reduce the administrative burden on doctors and cut the high level of burnout, attributed in part to physicians spending on average two hours on administrative work for every hour of patient care.

“If you are going to build a great company, you have to solve a big problem,” said Punit Singh Soni, a former executive at Google, who founded Suki in 2017. With a team of clinicians and technology experts, the company is building a solution it says is based on the real-world needs of doctors.

Soni said he wanted to provide a tech solution that eliminates the need for highly trained physicians to perform the tedious tasks of data entry and medical documentation. By leveraging recent technological advancements in AI and machine learning, the company says it has been able to eliminate hundreds of hours of paperwork for each physician each year. With Suki, physicians simply speak voice commands, which are then transcribed through natural language processing into a clinical note that is pushed into the electronic health record software the practices already use.

Suki has gained significant commercial traction in the last year and is now in use in some of the largest health systems and provider organizations across the country, including Ascension Healthcare.

“We are on a good start, but we have a long way to go,” Soni said, adding that changes are coming based on the feedback of the doctors who use the product.

Fierce insights from Punit Singh Soni, CEO and founder of Suki

What is your best piece of advice for launching a healthcare company that challenges the status quo?

My suggestion to anybody that’s out there in this space is that if you are going to put together a team, make sure you have populated that team with both clinicians and software technologists. They will come from different cultures. They will fight a lot. But if they are all going in the same direction, they will build a product that solves a real problem for doctors or patients.

What is the failure you’ve learned the best lesson from?

I think one consistent thing in the earlier days of my career is that I would basically be running like a bull in a china shop trying to get things done. I would have good ideas but I would create friction. My biggest learning from that time is that it is not enough to have a good idea; what is also necessary is to inspire, educate and welcome people into your journey and take them with you.

What is one change you predict in healthcare that people wouldn’t expect?

When you talk to healthcare folks, there’s this sense basically that they are locked into the technology they use right now. It is not going to change. It’s not dissimilar from people about six years who thought we were locked into the way taxicabs worked. Then suddenly we had Uber. So, my point is that technology overnight changes everything. I promise you we will have driverless cars and doctors will not be using EMRs in the same way they do today. Everybody who thinks they are locked into the world of today basically is going to be very surprised. There will be a whole new set of technologies.