White walls. You’re sitting on the hospital bed with that paper crinkling under you every time you shift around. It’s harder to focus on what the doctor is saying. The doctor just said the words “blood thinners” and your thoughts have already moved onto blood clots and heart disease. You snap back into the present and hear the words, “seventy-five milligrams”. Anxiety sets in. Wait, 75mg of what? When do I take it? We should probably go over my other prescriptions to check for interactions. What else did I miss….
Healthcare, at its core, is a series of stories. Patients tell them to other patients, patients tell them to doctors, doctors tell them to patients, doctors tell them to other doctors, patients tell them to their families, and so on. We know that humans are storytellers and yet the healthcare system is not conducive to storytelling. In fact, this complex industry is full of untold stories that get buried, cut short, and go unfinished.
Today these stories are shrunk into ten-minute appointments, with a clinician typing short-hand into electronic health records, converted into insurance codes, and slapped onto pill bottles, without anyone fully understanding what happened. When a patient story is fragmented, so is their healthcare and with nothing bridging the different pieces, there is a lack of understanding and trust. In line with our thesis of broadening access to wellbeing, we are looking for products to bridge this gap.
With this vision in mind, we are announcing our investment – alongside Pillar Ventures – in Abridge, a mobile product designed to record and document these often overwhelming medical conversations. It’s designed to shift agency to the smallest, and most important, unit in our healthcare system: people. When you use Abridge, the conversation with your clinician becomes your medical record. The output is a transcript and a unique audio medical record. Beyond improving medical outcomes, this type of service has the potential to create new trusted relationships between consumer and clinician by pushing control to users of health care.
The simplicity of the abridge experience can be captured in a gif:
- When you open the app, you see a large, pink “Record” button. Purposefully underdesigned, the record button itself is the trusted brand. All you have to do is tap it.
- The rest of the process is taken care of by Abridge: storing the complete audio file, creating a transcript with links to the audio, and extracting “meaningful moments”.
- Abridge reminds you when your transcript is ready, serves as a reference for instructions and dosages, and allows you to share your medical story, or parts of it, with other doctors or family.
People understanding and exercising their right to record can work to reverse the complexity of health care by putting direct control in individuals’ hands, quite literally: “You record. Your record.” Abridge makes time spent in a doctor’s office or hospital more meaningful by bridging the unspoken information and comprehension gap between consumer and clinician.
Spending time with the Pittsburgh-based Abridge team – a mix of creatives, audio enthusiasts, machine learners and engineers – convinced us that these are the people who can build this product. Each one of them shows unique conviction in the long-term vision of empowering people at scale because besides their careers, they are patients, caregivers, and clinicians as well. To that end, every member of Abridge takes a version of the Hippocratic Oath to convey that their mission first and foremost is to serve patients.
The Abridge team firmly believes that the efficiency and efficacy of the healthcare system can be rebuilt if everyone has the ability to record, save, and share their personal health stories. And USV does too.