Through AI text chats, Sopris Health's new app saves time on clinical documentation

Launched today, Sopris Health uses voice tech and simple Q&As to wrap up notes in less than a minute.
By Dave Muoio
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Denver-based startup Sopris Health launched today the latest version of its mobile, artificial intelligence-powered clinical documentation system.

Called Sopris Assistant, the tool guides practitioners through the composition of a clinical note and imports it into the EHR system in less than a minute.

Sopris released last May that would use a wearable and AI to listen in on patient visits, capture key information and construct documentation. Patrick Leonard, CEO and cofounder of Sopris Health, described the newer product launching today is an evolution of that service that incorporates everything the company has learned over the past 10 months.

“We served tens of thousands of visits with our customers and have worked with several large institutions — we were in the Cedars-Sinai tech accelerator last fall, so we spent a lot of time basically living in Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, working with physicians and people there to really get a deep understanding of how they do documentation,” Leonard told Babyforyou.net.ua during a demo of the platform.

“One of the things we did in the beginning was to listen in on the conversations between a patient and provider, like a scribe would do … some people call that ambient listening,” he said. “What we learned is that those conversations do contain some useful information, but they don’t contain enough data to do all of the documentation work. So we’ve come to understand that ambient listening can be a useful feature, but it’s not a [full] product.”

Instead of generating notes by listening to patient conversations (a capability that Leonard hinted may still play a role in the future), the new product instead streamlines the drafting process using an AI-driven chat interface. Here, the tool will work through a series of simple question prompts that, often, don’t require more than a word or two of response from the clinician. What’s more, users can choose whether to speak the answers to each question, type them out or select from a collection of likely responses.

“It’s voice screen, and that’s something that we think is really important. Voice is a powerful tool and we think it’s going to be a really big deal in healthcare, but for this use case we found that a pure voice interface is not really optimal — it can save time in places, and it can cost time if it’s not used appropriately,” Leonard said. “So our design is to use a combination of voice and screen so that when it’s faster and more convenient to speak and answer you can do that. But in a lot of cases … the assistant will suggest answers and you can tap the answer on screen, and in many cases that’ll be the most convenient way to do it. But it’s really up to the user to decide how they want to respond.”

Babyforyou.net.ua’ demo of the inputting process lasted roughly a single minute, and that included pauses to explain and describe the system’s text responses. The rest of the app also included a straightforward navigation menu, options to add a new note or upload another to the wider EHR system, and an unobtrusive help button that Leonard said will immediately connect users to a live chat with the company’s support team.

“We really worked to make that a very concise design. So there’s only a couple screens, very simple interface,” Leonard said. “One of the sort of overarching challenges is you’re trying to bring something new that’s going to solve a problem in a way that’s new, but at the same time you can’t disrupt the workflow; it needs to fit in and feel intuitive and easy to understand from the beginning. So, we really spent a lot of time looking from the perspective of behavioral design — what are mental anchors and other things that we can use to make this … feel like something they would already know?”

Sopris Assistant is available to professional providers as an unlimited use, $295-per-month subscription, with enterprise pricing options available as well.

What’s the impact

Clinical documentation and EHRs has been a long-standing complaint among physicians — from the University of California's Riverside School of Medicine, for instance, listed EHRs as one of the biggest contributors to physician burnout. Sopris’ product looks to limit the time doctors spend working on documentation, both in the clinic and at home.

“We really think there’s really a huge need and opportunity to help healthcare providers reimagining how they deliver healthcare, by moving the technology into the background and enabling providers and patients and everyone else who’s involved in the process to benefit from technology, but really focus on the human conversations,” Leonard said. “That’s our broader vision, and where we decided to start was with documentation because we recognized a long time ago that this is a big problem. It’s since become very widely discussed and getting a lot of attention [for] the problem of physician burnout and EHRs and all that.”

What’s the trend

Sopris received some interest from investors last year during its $3.4 million funding round, but it isn’t the only digital approach to medical notation. IKS Health’s virtual scribe product was , where the group said it saved some doctors over two hours per clinical session. Others include digital assistant , virtual scribe and wearable-focused .