Digital assistant ‘Suki’ dramatically reduces time spent on EHR
The maintenance of electronic health records is arguably one of the biggest administrative burdens that physicians face and is often cited as a source of burnout.
“Primary care physicians spend a tremendous amount of time in the EHR every day, including nights and weekends,” Brian G. Arndt, MD, an associate professor in the department of family medicine and community health at the University of Wisconsin, previously told Healio Primary Care.
Arndt co-authored a study in Annals of Family Medicine that concluded PCPs spend more than half their workday on EHRs.
“A focus on improving proficiency with the EHR tools that exist will likely result in improvements in efficiency at the individual clinician, team, clinic and health system level,” he added.
A pilot study involving Suki, a subscription-based digital assistant that all physicians can use that costs several hundred dollars a month, showed a dramatic decrease in documentation time.
To learn more about Suki, Healio Primary Care interviewed Steven Waldren, MD, MS, vice president and chief medical informatics officer at the American Academy of Family Physicians. He discussed Suki’s specific functions, data supporting its use and more.
Q: What is Suki?
A: Suki is akin to Google Assistant, Siri or Alexa. It is voice-activated and artificial intelligence-based. Unlike those other tools, Suki’s focus is on helping doctors with documentation.
Q: What does Suki do? What data s upport its use?
A: When searching for a tool to help physicians, we were looking for a device that one: was effective, and two: was easily adoptable by clinicians. Suki, more so than the other devices we looked at, answered both those questions.
Once Suki is integrated into a health system, physicians can incorporate any kind of template into their EHR. A physician can also tell Suki what he or she wants to do — for example, document a physical exam, review family history or add the history of a patient’s present illness or chief complaint. A physician can say “Suki, bring in the last abdominal exam for this patient,” and the tool will put the details of the last such exam into your note. Physicians do not need to spend time finding old notes, copying them and integrating them into a new report for adding and editing.
In the first-stage pilot study, 10 AAFP members ranked their satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10 in several clinical areas such as patient documentation and time spent completing this documentation before they used Suki and after, and then again after they used Suki for between 15 and 30 days.
In the latter satisfaction surveys, physicians reported a 51% reduction in documentation time during clinic hours, 62% decrease in documentation time per patient and a 70% reduction in documentation time after their clinic had closed. Physician interviews showed 100% of the providers were more satisfied with how they were doing their notes, and 84% were satisfied with the time needed to use their EHR for other administrative tasks.
Q: How did AAFP become involved with Suki? What are the academy’s future plans for it ?
A: The AAFP selected Suki for the first pilot of the academy’s Innovation Lab program, an initiative that identifies and demonstrates technologies that we think will be essential to optimizing the family medicine experience.
We worked with Suki during the pilot to incorporate feedback from the pilot study participants to optimize the solution for family medicine. The plans are to further study this class of product, we call the digital clinical assistant. We have seen advancements during the time of our pilot, including Suki’s ability to place clinically relevant orders, so that all a physician has to say is something like, “start this patient on a nicotine patch,” and the order is entered with all the relevant details and is ready for the physician to sign. Ultimately, we hope Suki gets to the point where it acts like a medical assistant that you have worked with for years. We are actively engaged in a larger study to ensure that Suki works across practices of varying characteristics.
- AAFP. Suki Clinical Digital Assistant Greatly Reduces EHR Documentation Time and Burden for Family Physicians. https://www.aafp.org/news/media-center/releases/suki-clinical-digital-assistant-reduces-ehr-documentation-and-burden-for-fps.html. Accessed September 2, 2020.
- Arndt BG, et al. Ann Fam Med. 2017: doi:10.1370/afm.2121.