Microsoft-owned Nuance could limit growth of newer AI voice entrants in healthcare

The news: AI voice-based clinical assistant startup Suki bagged $55 million in Series C funding, boosting its valuation to $400 million. The company will use the fresh capital to expand its health system partnerships and advance AI capabilities of its platform, Suki Speech.

Why it’s worth watching: Physicians are burnt out from heavy administrative burdens—tech like Suki’s is cutting down on the time they need to spend on burnout-driving tasks like admin and paperwork.

  • Nearly 42% of physicians report they’re burnt out—and 58% of doctors say the top drivers include bureaucratic tasks like charting and paperwork, per the 2021 Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report.

AI platforms like Suki’s use natural language processing (NLP) to enable rapid dictation of clinical notes to eliminate doctor’s admin loads:

  • Suki claims its health system partners saved 4,375 administrative hours per week with its tech.
  • ~42% of physicians say a more manageable workload would help reduce their burnout, per Medscape.

What’s next? Voice-based clinical assistants are gaining investor attention, but it’ll be difficult for entrants to carve into the market with the threat of Microsoft-owned voice assistant Nuance.

For example, besides Suki, Robin Healthcare recently scored $50 million to build out its “Alexa for healthcare” scribe device that uses AI to record patient-provider interactions and upload clinical notes into the EHR.

But, there’s already a clinical voice assistant that most healthcare providers are using:

  • Nuance’s conversational AI voice tech Dragon Medical One is used by 90% of US hospitals, which means most hospitals already have one speech-to-text solution to streamline EHR notes.
  • Plus, this year, Microsoft bought Nuance in a whopping $16 billion deal, which means Nuance now has access to Microsoft’s tech muscle and funding.

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