Fireside chat Recap: Dr. Shiv Rao at Abridge

Stephanie Diaz
April 27, 2021

Dr. Shiv Rao shares his perspective on patient-centered care and how Abridge is transforming healthcare communications with technology

Some of the most critical moments of our lives happen at the doctor’s office, yet studies show that patients forget up to 80 percent of the healthcare communications they have during their visits.

Enter Abridge—the app that utilizes proprietary machine learning and cutting-edge technology, including Ribbon Health’s API layer, to help people stay on top of their health. CEO and Co-founder, Dr. Shiv Rao, recently joined Ribbon for a fireside chat to share the inspiration behind Abridge, its impact, and what’s next for the company and industry.

Inspiration for Abridge’s consumer-centered design

As a cardiologist, Shiv has long been aware of the importance of healthcare communications in shaping all the diagnostics and therapeutics that encompass a person’s care plan. However, when a rare disease impacted his family planning, placing him and his wife on the patient side of the room, Shiv gained a new perspective on the complexity of these interactions.

“The amount of information asymmetry, the amount of power asymmetry, how nervous we were, how little we knew—we felt like we were shunted through a maze.” Heightened by the fact that he couldn’t be at every appointment, Shiv frequently asked the million-dollar question that most people and their loved ones ask immediately after an appointment: “What did the doctor say?”

Whether a patient can’t recall the details, is still processing the jargon, or is overtaxed by recounting the experience, the answer is often “I don’t know.” And while access to the official medical billing record is important and necessary, those clinical documents rarely reflect the detailed explanations, education, and empathy from the conversation.

Shiv realized patients just don’t have the tools to bridge the gap in recollection and understanding. “How can we expect anyone to follow through if they don’t even remember, much less understand?” Shiv’s story isn’t unique. His Co-founder and Abridge’s CTO, Sandeep Konam, had a similar journey with his grandmother’s care, and many others at Abridge share kindred experiences. In conceptualizing a solution, he recounts simply asking: “What would we have wanted during our experiences?”

Bridging the gap for better healthcare conversations

“Our mission,” Shiv states, “is to help patients better understand their health and enable them to follow through on the information they receive.” For Abridge, that starts with health-related conversations. With the tap of a button, patients can easily record their conversations with clinicians and, within moments, receive a transcript, automatically highlighting and annotating key details to provide additional context and information. But helping people better understand and follow-through doesn’t stop there.

Abridge uses machine learning to identify the key takeaways from a conversation, including next steps and any medication changes. To ensure pertinent information isn’t lost in translation, they also provide trusted definitions for medical jargon at a fourth-grade reading level. As Shiv fondly remembers pitching it, “It’s like Soundcloud meets Rap Genius for healthcare.”

Ultimately, with Abridge, patients can make sense of the information from their visits and better understand the next steps in their journey. “Our intention from the get-go was to flip the script and put the patient in the front seat with technology that can help them remember what happened in those conversations. We also wanted to structure the information in a way that considers health literacy and health advocacy to help everybody be the healthiest versions of themselves.”

Partnerships make it possible

What’s next for Abridge? Shiv has one word: growth. Abridge is working to increase awareness and accessibility of its service, from standalone adoption of the app by consumers to integrating into existing systems on the provider side and establishing B2B2C channels.

Zooming out, Shiv believes the digital health industry is poised to undergo a significant transformation in the coming few years. He sees a progressive unbundling of the industry and its underlying technology stack, enabling new kinds of partnerships and solutions that put the patient at the center. “In the past, the prevalent mentality was that you had to do it all. Now, more than ever, the barriers for entry aren’t as high as they used to be. There’s a huge opportunity to do great things collaboratively,” he explains.

Sharing Shiv’s vision for collaboration at scale, we recently joined forces with Abridge to launch its new Care Team feature. The feature aims to simplify how patients and providers interact by giving patients easy access to a list of important information about their doctors, nurses, counselors, or other specialists right in the Abridge app. Powered by Ribbon’s provider data, patients can curate the doctors on their Care Team, access their contact information, tag and send copies of conversations, and more.

The partnership exemplifies a people-centered approach to healthcare, which is core to Abridge’s mission, and Shiv believes it will be the standard in healthcare in the years to come.

To learn more about Abridge and its mission to bring context and understanding to every medical conversation, visit them here.

To learn more about our partnership, check out our blog post here.

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