Augmedix raises $3.2 million to bring Google Glass into doctor’s office

google glass

(Liz Hafalia/The Chronicle)

Augmedix, one of several start-ups developing ways to use Google Glass in health care, said Wednesday it has raised $3.2 million in venture capital funding.

The announcement comes on an especially busy day for the start-up’s 36 employees, who will begin moving out of the Mission Bay incubator Rock Health and into their own 7,000-square-foot office in San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighborhood.

Augmedix’s founders, who formed the company as Stanford University students in 2012, said they will use the cash from DCM and Emergence Capital Partners to hire more staff and expand their services. The company’s program is designed to allow Google Glass-wearing doctors to cut down on paperwork and spend more time with patients.

Taking notes on a patient’s condition, whether electronically or by hand, has always been a necessary yet time-consuming part of a doctor’s job. A January study found that physicians who use electronic health records in the exam room spend one-third of their time looking at a computer screen, which may get in the way of their ability to communicate with patients.

According to CEO Ian Shakil and Chief Product Officer Pelu Tran, Augmedix works like this: As a doctor wearing Glass talks to a patient, the information shared is recorded electronically. After the visit, the doctor will be able to pull up desired data on Glass through voice command — “kind of like Siri or OnStar,” Shakil told me in an interview.

“We’re taking advantage of the audiovisual and sensory capabilities of Google Glass, as well as the display, to push information to and from the (electronic health record) seamlessly,” he said.

The founders wouldn’t say much about how the information gets transcribed, such as whether it’s done by a human or a computer algorithm. But Augmedix does comply with patient-privacy laws, the pair said.

Shakil said Augmedix is revenue-generating and seeing successful results from its program as it gets tested in several undisclosed health care systems.

This isn’t the only way people are trying to use Google Glass in health care. Pristine in Austin makes an app that lets physicians and nurses to transmit live video and audio of patients from Glass to authorized computers, smartphones and tablets. This week, in a live-streamed demonstration, a Stanford University surgeon used Glass to project illustrated step-by-step procedures over the skin of a model.

Still, Augmedix’s backers are betting on a tool that’s touted as helping doctors make sense of large sets of patient data. ”We’ve taken a look at just about every Google Glass start-up concept — and we’ve yet to see an opportunity as compelling as Augmedix,” said Kevin Spain, general partner with Emergence Capital Partners, in a statement.

Stephanie M. Lee