Augmedix is a healthcare startup that uses Google Glass to provide a remote scribe service to physicians in clinics around the United States. With enterprise grade HIPAA security, Augmedix offers “the nation’s most reliable, most scalable, and most secure remote scribe service.”[i]
Physicians wear Google Glass while seeing patients and the visit information is sent to a remote scribe that records all of the patient visit notes. This service saves the provider the time and hassle required to complete lengthy paperwork and thus allows them to see more patients and increase charting accuracy. According to the company website, Augmedix reduces Electronic Healthcare Record (EHR) charting time by 80% and allows providers to see up to 25% more patients. Thus not only does the reduced charting time allow providers to increase patient volume and get home to see their families, they can also spend more time with their patients thereby improving the doctor / patient relationship.
The Augmedix CEO puts it this way “When you are with doctors without Glass, they are charting and clicking on computers for a lot of the time, and not focusing on their patients… When you put on Google Glass to collect and reference that information, it helps you engage with the patient better…[the Augmedix system] takes care of documentation in the background faster than you would. It humanises the process.”[ii]
This video shows Augmedix in action:
Augmedix has a subscription-based revenue model in which each doctor pays a monthly fee in the “low-single digit thousands of dollars” for both the eyewear and the service. Since the scribes are remote, Augmedix can deploy resources more efficiently to handle demand. However in order for this model to work efficiently you ideally need full scribe utilization combined with a lot of individual doctors. For example, if one doctor is using up all of one scribe’s time in one month this could lead to a scenario where costs are actually higher than revenues on a per unit basis. In the future, perhaps Augmedix will be able to tier the price of its subscription based on usage or even savings realized.
Today Augmedix relies on human inputs in the form of their scribes to do much of the heavy lifting. However, in the future they hope to be able to leverage the power of Natural Language Processing to increase efficiency. Down the line, aside from providing just the scribe service Augmedix wants to provide more services to both the patient and the physician. For example, they are considering the introduction of more patient-oriented features that would involve demonstrations for self-care and reliving the appointment at home. For physicians, they would like to add more guidance to help them remember different pieces of a patient’s medical history at the appropriate times – for example if he / she is a smoker or has recently undergone surgery. As you can see, NLP is just the first step for Augmedix to continue adding more services and prevent it from becoming a commodity.
The company is also not necessarily wedded to Google Glass or to using one NLP program whether it be created by Google, Nuance or someone else in the space. Augmedix is a service built on top of the AR hardware so the ability to be nimble when it comes to potentially moving onto a different version of hardware is important as these technologies are nowhere near mature. If Google is in the lead today someone else like MagicLeap or Oculus could be there tomorrow so Augmedix needs to make sure it’s fate is not dependent upon a single system.
Augmedix is providing a valuable service to healthcare providers in its network and as it continues to add features it should become even stickier. The healthcare industry in the US is huge, but it will be important for Augmedix to continue partnering with as many networks as possible. Healthcare providers such as Sutter Health, Dignity Health, Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), and TriHealth Inc. have already invested in Augmedix and they will want to keep their clinics on the same system. The standardization of reporting with Augmedix will create a competitive advantage and barrier to entry if it can reach critical mass within the US since this these providers will not want to engage in multihoming when it comes to an Augmedix-like service.