Suki’s mission is to make health technology supportive and invisible: Nitin Gupta

Mr. Nitin Gupta, Head of India, Sukispoke to recently CXOtoday about the challenges we face in integrating AI/ML in healthcare and how privacy plays an important role in the management of healthcare data, to create a national digital healthcare infrastructure and an open network for data exchange between different providers and users . He also goes into detail about Suki’s support in bridging the healthcare technology gap with AI/ML.

  1. Overview of the Indian healthcare ecosystem and its technological infrastructure?

“According to Nasscom, the Indian healthcare sector is expected to reach US$372 billion by 2022 (an annual growth rate of over 16%).” Although the sector has grown significantly in recent years, major challenges remain in increasing coverage and quality of care.

These challenges include:

  • In a diverse and vast country like India, remote areas are very difficult to reach
  • There is a poor doctor-patient ratio of 1:1500
  • Failure to standardize operational procedures, skill requirements, and regulations introduces variability in care and increases the risk of diagnostic error
  • Low insurance penetration of only about 20% in our population

Today, as they seek to address these challenges, healthcare organizations in India struggle to maintain a balance between three interlocking factors of cost, accessibility and quality, which are at odds with each other. For example, initiatives focused on improving the quality of care are often expensive and accessible to few.

However, AI-driven health technology solutions have the potential to deliver quality care in a cost-effective and accessible manner. For example, remote monitoring can help ensure more patients receive quality care and ultimately help reduce costs through fewer complications.

Even though there is active innovation in the industry today (NASSCOM recently reported that around 18% of all AI patents filed in India are from healthcare); One of the biggest challenges for the ecosystem is the lack of a healthcare-focused AI community. Consequently, there is no coherent learning, case studies or best practices to adopt and learn from. There is a shortage of qualified mentors who understand both the healthcare field and the technological skills. Additionally, there is very little AI research specifically focused on healthcare in academic institutions that can help the larger ecosystem. Entrepreneurs have to resort to trial and error when working in the industry, which is suboptimal given the importance of healthcare to any individual. In fact, at Suki we are evaluating how we can partner with some of the leading academic institutions in India to drive more AI-driven research in healthcare.

  1. How is health data created and used? How does privacy play an important role in health data management?

Data in all healthcare systems still exists in silos, adding additional friction and duplication of work for clinicians. For example, nurses spend a lot of time entering data from devices into the EHR. Automatically letting this data flow into the relevant systems would be an enormous advantage that a technical intervention can bring.

The healthcare industry is very complex as it brings together many different players such as hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, retail, medical devices, diagnostic centers, aftercare centers, insurance companies, etc. And they all can benefit significantly from collaborating and sharing data with each other, to get the best results, very little attention is paid to the same thing as they see no immediate value.

Another challenge is that AI-generated solutions and models are mostly difficult to explain and there is a lack of understanding of what is possible in terms of AI. As such, it is difficult for stakeholders to see the value of data sharing, which can lead to more beneficial AI-driven solutions, and one of the most important reasons is privacy requirements.

Healthcare is a highly regulated field, as patient health data is one of the most sensitive data types. Healthcare organizations face significant criminal charges, fines and reputational damage in the event of data breaches. So there are high barriers to data sharing. This also applies to developed markets. The US healthcare system has seen massive adoption of EHRs and other technology solutions, but interoperability remains a challenge.

To overcome these challenges, strategic alliances and win-win partnerships must be forged between healthcare organizations and technology providers so that they can come together to realize the full potential of AI-driven healthcare technology solutions. Government initiatives like Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission should help if there is an intention to create a national digital health infrastructure and an open network for data exchange between different providers and users.

  1. How is Suki bridging the technology gap in healthcare with AI/ML?

Suki strives to solve one of the biggest global problems in the healthcare industry: doctor burnout. Physicians and other healthcare professionals today face an enormous administrative burden when it comes to tasks such as clinical documentation, entering medication orders or lab tests, replying to patient messages, etc. For every hour they spend with the patient, spend two hours on these maintenance tasks.

Suki’s mission is to make healthcare technology empowering and invisible, reducing the administrative burden on doctors so they can focus on what they love to do, which is caring for patients. We believe that speech is a more natural and faster way to interact, and speech-enabled solutions can help physicians complete their tasks faster and easier. And to keep that at the heart of everything we do, we’ve developed our AI-powered, speech-enabled digital assistant, leveraging the latest speech technologies and advanced natural language processing algorithms. With it, physicians speak naturally to perform tedious administrative tasks such as clinical documentation or retrieving information from the EHR.

We also offer our proprietary speech platform, the Suki Speech Platform, to healthcare partners who want to create a premium speech experience for their own solutions. In this way, we remain true to our mission of making health technology supportive and invisible through our partner solutions.

  1. Challenges Suki faces and steps taken to overcome them

There have been several major challenges throughout the journey and growth. The first challenge was to really understand the issues and pain points our users are facing. The culture of healthcare clinicians is very different from that of technologists, so customer empathy is very important. One way to approach this is that practicing physicians are a core part of our team. The other way we encourage customer centricity is by making customer visits and interactions a top priority for everyone in the organization so they can directly understand the issues and concerns of clinicians.

The second challenge is that healthcare is a conservative, slow-moving industry that is somewhat at odds with the startup culture, which is fast-paced and typically operates with shorter time horizons. Building a healthcare startup requires a team that understands our vision, a longer-term view of what we are building and what we are trying to achieve, and the patience to endure long sales cycles. We are constantly strengthening this with our team.

Finally, another key challenge is building a high-performing, fun culture through the ups and downs of startup life, empowering the team to do their best, move agilely, and grow in their careers. In the end it’s about the people and when they find a great environment they can thrive and achieve anything. We have clearly defined corporate values ​​and ensure that employees continuously live these values, from our hiring process through to their day-to-day work.

  1. The future of integrating technology into healthcare and Suki’s future map to contribute to the technological advancement of the global healthcare ecosystem?

Suki strives to help every doctor, clinician, practice and healthcare system around the world with their administrative burden. We are rapidly expanding our user base and are focused on growing our footprint. In order to achieve this, increasing the capabilities of our solutions is crucial.

Suki Assistant will continue to expand its capabilities to include other administrative tasks such as billing and orders. Our goal is to make Suki a true digital assistant that can help with any administrative task that a doctor might need to handle. With the Suki Speech platform, we have tremendous opportunities to enable speech experiences through a variety of use cases that our partners deliver. We will continue to expand our partner base and strive to build the Suki brand analogous to the voice in healthcare.

While most of our market is currently in the US, India is also proving to be a very exciting market. As healthcare continues to go digital through government initiatives such as Ayushman Bharat’s digital mission, we believe Suki will be able to bring tremendous value to the lives of doctors and healthcare professionals in India. We assume that India will be an important market for us in the coming years. Meanwhile, the Suki India team will continue to grow and provide a global platform for the technical talents in India to solve some of the most relevant and complex healthcare issues around the world.

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