Saykara raises $5M as its AI voice assistant cuts time doctors spend on paperwork by 70%

Saykara now employs 18, with vets of Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Nuance on its team. (Saykara Photo)

If you are a doctor in the U.S., chances are you spend a lot of time doing paperwork — sometimes double the amount of time you spend seeing patients.

“Physicians today spend an inordinate amount of time, a tremendous amount of time, looking at a screen because they are required to capture documentation for a visit with a patient,” said Harjinder Sandhu, the CEO and founder of Saykara.

Saykara is trying to change that with its AI-powered voice assistant, and the company just raised $5 million to help scale its technology. Another nugget of information the company revealed: Physicians using SayKara cut down their paperwork time by 70 percent.

The new funding round was led by SpringRock Ventures and also included Madrona Venture Group, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and Elevate Innovation Partners. As part of the deal, SpringRock Managing Director Kirsten Morbeck will join Saykara’s Board of Directors.

Saykara Founder and CEO Harjinder Sandhu. (Saykara Photo)

Sandhu, a health technology vet who sold a previous company to Nuance, said the funds will help Saykara scale its sales and marketing departments as it launches in hospital systems around the country.

“We’re working with some of the largest health systems in the country right now,” Sandhu said. He declined to name Saykara’s clients for the time being.

The funds will also go towards refining Saykara’s technology. The voice assistant is designed to sit passively in a room during patient visits and use machine learning and natural language processing to automatically fill information into electronic health records systems.

Sandhu said the ultimate goal is to make the assistant “an AI solution that fits seamlessly into the physician’s workflow.” He also said the technology is expanding its features beyond documentation into tasks like referrals and physician feedback.

Saykara is in good company in the health AI space. In February, Microsoft unveiled EmpowerMD, an AI scribe with similar features to Saykara’s technology, which Microsoft developed in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Unlike Saykara, EmpowerMD is not voice-activated.

Then there’s Amazon, which is making inroads into a number of healthcare verticals. The company’s Alexa AI assistant could very well be the next feature it chooses to take into healthcare.

Saykara previously raised a $2.5 million round in 2016, bringing its total funding to $7.5 million. It launched publicly last September and now employs 18 at its headquarters in Seattle.

Sandhu previously co-founded MedRemote, which was sold to Nuance Communications for just under $14 million in 2005. He then spent five years at Nuance where he served as vice president and chief technologist of healthcare R&D.