Voice-based clinical assistant Suki picks up $55M to fuel tech development, expand health system partnerships

Punit Soni, CEO of Suki
“We are at a turning point in healthcare, where it’s now imperative to offer technology that improves physician burnout caused by documentation and administrative burden,” Punit Soni, CEO of Suki, said. (Suki)

Voice-enabled healthcare digital assistant Suki just banked $55 million in series C funding, boosting its valuation to $400 million. 

The latest funding round was led by growth equity firm March Capital with backing from Philips Ventures and previous investors including Venrock, Flare Capital, Breyer Capital and inHealth Ventures. The round is also comprised of super angels who are leading figures in technology, healthcare and finance, including the Gaingels Group, Pankaj Patel (ex-chief development officer of Cisco), Andrew Deutsch, M.D., (CEO of RIMA Radiology) and Russell Farscht (former managing director of The Carlyle Group), according to the company.

Voice-enabled digital assistants are a rapidly growing market in healthcare as providers look to leverage technology to help with documentation and reduce administrative tasks. The global market for healthcare virtual assistants is expected to grow from $1.1 billion in 2021 to $6 billion by 2026, according to Research and Markets.

“We are at a turning point in healthcare, where it’s now imperative to offer technology that improves physician burnout caused by documentation and administrative burden,” said Punit Soni, CEO of Suki, in a statement. “With the strong support of our investors, Suki is poised to address this issue at an even larger scale and advance high-value, coordinated care through cutting-edge technology that integrates seamlessly into a physician's daily practice.” 

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The Redwood City, California, startup has been making strides in this growing market since 2017, tapping staff who’ve worked at Apple, Google, Adobe and IBM Watson to advance technology designed to help healthcare organizations with such administrative tasks as physician dictation and records retrieval.

In 2019, the company inked a partnership with Google, which tapped the artificial-intelligence-powered, voice-enabled digital assistant as one of Google Cloud Global Healthcare Solutions’ first partners. 

Suki has now raised $95 million in funding.

smartphone with screenshot of Suki voice-enabled clinical digital assistant
Suki's voice-enabled digital assistant (Suki)

The company plans to use the funding to make strategic investments that will lead to an expansion of its user base through new and existing partnerships with leading health systems and medical groups while bolstering employee growth and development. In addition, Suki will advance the AI capabilities of Suki Assistant, its voice-enabled digital assistant, and Suki Speech Platform, its proprietary voice platform, as well as add new features that streamline documentation, coding and other administrative tasks for physicians. 

These AI-powered voice platforms, which operate like a Siri or Alexa for healthcare professionals, are attracting big investment dollars. In November, Notable nabbed $100 million in series B funding led by ICONIQ Growth and with participation from Greylock, F-Prime Capital and Oak HC/FT. 

It's a hot market, to be sure. A prime example is Microsoft's massive $19.7 billion deal in April to acquire speech-to-text software company Nuance Communications, which had previously partnered with Microsoft to create an exam room that uses ambient technology, AI and cloud computing to document clinical visits. That deal came a few months after Nuance acquired another voice-enabled mobile AI assistant, Saykara, to help boost its capabilities in healthcare AI.

Amazon also has been pushing into the healthcare space, recently launching a new service for hospitals that will embed its Alexa voice technology deeper into clinical settings at scale. As part of Alexa Smart Properties, the service will simplify how hospitals and senior living facilities deploy and manage Alexa-enabled devices across their properties, the company said.

Powered by AI, Suki uses natural language processing and machine learning to create clinically accurate medical notes and streamlines administrative tasks such as retrieving patient information from the electronic health record (EHR) or ICD-10 coding. Suki supports doctors practicing in any clinical setting as well as any in specialty, including cardiology, orthopedics, plastic surgery, ophthalmology, pediatrics and family medicine, according to the company.

The company has seen major growth in the past year, quadrupling its revenue, company executives said.

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Suki also continued to rapidly innovate, introducing new capabilities including the ability to dynamically pull in EHR data and a Suki Windows app that extends the reach and power of Suki Assistant to any Windows computer. Further, the company expanded its capabilities outside of clinical documentation, refining its ICD-10 coding features to be more accurate and streamlined.

Suki says its solution reduces documentation time by 76% on average and is used by physicians across dozens of specialties in more than 90 health systems and clinics nationwide.

“March was instantly drawn to Suki’s mission to help healthcare organizations lift the administrative burden from doctors so they can focus on taking care of their patients,” said Wes Nichols, partner at March Capital, in a statement.

“My first exposure to Suki was observing my doctor using his phone to update his EHR and pharmacy, which compelled me to ask him about what he was using. He was thrilled with Suki as a user, and I knew I had to meet the founder. Doctor burnout is a public health crisis which makes Suki’s cutting-edge AI-powered voice assistant a game-changing solution for doctors and health systems everywhere," Nichols said.