Lyrebird Health is helping doctors deliver patient care, not paperwork

September 27, 2023
Lyrebird Health Startmate Accelerator

There’s been a lot of chatter and LinkedIn doom-scrolling about AI taking people’s jobs recently. 

And while some roles may disappear with new-found automation, Open AI CEO Sam Altman says there are some industries where the human touch is irreplaceable. 

“It’s very hard for me to imagine a world without doctors, for example,” he told a packed crowd at the Melbourne Convention Centre in June 2023.

One startup using AI to reimagine the experience is Startmate Company Lyrebird Health, a medical scribing tool that allows doctors to practice medicine, not paperwork. 

Ahead of Startmate Demo Day in October, we spoke to Co-Founders Linus Talacko and Kai Van Lieshout about the origin story behind the tool, and what it was like to test it in front of Mr Altman himself. 

A system-wide pain point

Late last year, 21-year-old university student Kai Van Lieshout was finally diagnosed with a chronic illness he’d been battling his entire life. But when he sought treatment, Kai was told the waiting list could stretch into the years. 

“[In startups] People talk a lot about the pain point of consumers. But when you actually have an illness, you get to feel that every day, which is definitely another level,” Kai says.  

Speaking to his doctors though, it wasn’t actually an influx of demand keeping patients waiting, but the amount of time healthcare practitioners need to spend on paperwork. 

“It turned out, the average doctor spends about 30-40% of each day just on documentation,” he says. 

“And that kind of struck me because I feel like we get told so much that it's a demand problem. But in reality, when you've got these health practitioners literally spending one to two hours a day away from patients on paperwork, it becomes a workflow problem as well.”

Here’s where the original kernel of an idea formed for Lyrebird Health- now Australia's first and most widely used AI assistant for healthcare practitioners.

Lyrebird listens to consults and generates a voice-to-text transcript with >99% accuracy. The conversation is then refined to remove personal information and superfluous detail, and handily formatted to meet industry standard guidelines for patient notes.

From there, doctors can use the tool to generate a referral in seconds, with a personalisation algorithm that can learn their writing style in less than five consults. 

They can also securely share patient data with other practitioners. So, instead of spending the first half of an $800 specialist appointment just describing your background and symptoms, Lyrebird can share this data ahead of time to get to diagnosis and treatment faster. 

Patient care, not paperwork 

The platform was originally developed during a two-week hackathon in the Startmate Student Fellowship, a national program challenging a generation of young people to look to startups as an alternative career path.

It was here that Kai met Lyrebird Co-Founder Linus Talacko (20), a computer science student who actually looked quite familiar.  

It turned out, the pair were actually a year apart at the same primary and secondary school, and both a little unsure a conventional path on graduation would get them where they wanted to be. 

Read more about that particular co-founder meet-cute here.

That was only in February this year. By late June, Lyrebird was one of 13 companies selected for the Startmate Winter 23 cohort and had a minimum viable product being tested at Melbourne GP clinics. 

The platform is now doing around 900 consults a week Australia-wide, saving an average of 6-8 minutes for each consult. 

For my partner, an Optometrist at a busy drop-in clinic who sees about 15 patients a day (and has kind of terrible handwriting), the Lyrebird Platform would free up close to ten hours per week. 

Those are hours he could be spending joking around with a little kid to make her first eye test less scary. Or counselling someone about their options after a life-changing diagnosis. 

“For us, it's all about enabling those lifelong relationships with your practitioner, which is what medicine should be about,” Linus says. 

“And the way that it's set up now doesn't facilitate that at all. We want you to go in and have that really fantastic relationship with your practitioner, rather than them just trying to pump out patients because they're forced to just go through the system.”

A fresh take on the healthcare industry

Heading into Demo Day, an integration with Australian practice management group Best Practice Software will see Lyrebird Health reach about 75% of Australian GP Clinics, and a capital raise is also on the cards. 

But the most impressive endorsement has perhaps come from Sam Altman himself, who Kai had a 1-1 with at Open AI HQ on a recent trip to San Francisco.

Sam Altman & Kai - The photo that broke the SM Slack 

Not bad for two co-founders who are both still at uni, and readily admit they don’t fit the usual profile of entrepreneurs in the medical industry.  

“I think that we've come into this not knowing a whole lot about medical software in the past.” 

“And I think that we're not stuck by the dogma of what medical software is… has actually been super helpful to us,” Linus reflects. 

“It's allowing us to actually change the way that medicine is practised. Rather than just building on top of what is already there.”

Final Thoughts

“Our vision is that doctors should spend virtually 100% of their time looking patients in the eye and delivering care, and everything else should be automated by someone like us, so that we can let the healthcare system function in the most healthy way possible,” Kai closes. 

Their big, hairy audacious goal? 

Automating all non-patient-facing tasks for clinicians in Australia to create a new healthcare system placing patients firmly at the centre. 

Catch Lyrebird Health at Startmate Demo Day at SXSW Sydney, October 19. Grab your ticket here.

PSA: Summer24 Accelerator applications are OPEN.

Apply here.

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Written by
Written by
Holly ClarkHolly Clark
Holly is Communications Lead at LaunchVic and an inaugural Startmate Media Fellow.

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