Can Silicon Valley Save Healthcare? A Conversation with Dr. Adam Silverman

Dr. Adam Silverman

In this episode of Friends of Project Healthcare…

Dr. Adam Silverman, Chief Medical Officer of Syllable, joins Project Healthcare colleagues Lauren Hatcher and Jeremy Raley to discuss why he believes the survival of healthcare requires a little assistance from Silicon Valley.

Syllable is a digital health technology company focused on improving patient experience and reducing healthcare costs by promoting conversational self-service and automation through AI to make it easier for patients to engage in care.

With over 30 years of experience as a physician and executive, Adam remains a passionate healthcare innovator with a diverse work history that includes private practice, academic medicine and physician leadership in both hospital and ambulatory settings.

With his vast exposure to healthcare, particularly in the Silicon Valley venture capital ecosystem, he admits, he’s seen and heard it all before. 

“I’ve been pitched hundreds of times by startups and various vendors,” he says. “I just wasn’t quite seeing the movement of the needle in terms of either improving the product that we were delivering on the provider side or, you know, reducing cost.”

Then he joined Syllable, and in 2019 began what he calls “a steep learning curve about something I knew nothing about,” referring to artificial intelligence and its ability to improve workflow through advanced automation. Here, he began to see real improvement in a small part of the large healthcare system. 

Adam shares that as part of his learning, he and the Syllable team screened countless minutes of phone calls between patients and call centers. And what they discovered was that 85% of calls came down to the same three “intents”: wanting to reach a loved one in the hospital, wanting to schedule a specific service or wanting to contact a specific department. 

“That time we spent in the call center wasn’t just observing,” he says. “We recorded phone calls and we labeled those by hand, and then we fed them into a computer and we said, here’s 150 ways that somebody asks for a physician’s appointment.” 

The AI was able to use those cues to assist and respond accordingly. “We purposely built it for healthcare. We trained it on actual conversations between people and providers,” Adam explains.

As a result, the AI has begun to field a majority of the 85% of calls, allowing human staff more time to engage personally with the patient. “High volume things are really good for computers. If you have somebody that has a more complicated need, that’s somebody that you want to talk to a human being,” he shares. “And we want to empower that human being to be freed up from gunk in the system.”

Syllable’s solutions have been in use by some of the largest and most respected healthcare providers across the United States. But Adam doesn’t think it ends there.

The next challenge for healthcare innovators to tackle is piercing the long held data silos, to allow the data to flow into something that can be used to develop even more powerful solutions. “If we can free up that data, then we can use AI to help patients really answer a lot of questions about their healthcare.”

Adam’s advice to future healthcare entrepreneurs and innovators is to find a problem they’re passionate about and solve it. “I think the problem is we tend to focus on the bright shiny object and that distracts us from solving the real problems,” he says. 

“We’re not doing anything sexy. We’re answering the phone. But that’s a real problem.”

You can hear more about Adam and his quest to discover ways digital technology can help the future of healthcare on his own podcast, Can Silicon Valley Save Healthcare?. Each episode, Adam leverages his education in venture capital healthcare startups with his practical understanding of the greatest challenges in healthcare gained from private practice to ask insightful questions at the intersection of technology, venture capital, and healthcare services.

This conversation was captured at the 2023 ViVE Conference in Nashville, TN. Stay tuned for more exciting interviews from the event.

About Dr. Adam Silverman: Adam is passionate healthcare innovator with 30 years of experience as a physician and executive. He has a diverse work history that includes private practice, academic medicine and physician leadership in both hospital and ambulatory settings. He is a board-certified General Internist who relocated to the West Coast in 2019 to serve as the inaugural Chief Medical Officer of Syllable.ai, a conversational Ai healthcare technology company focused on improving the patient experience and reducing health care costs by promoting self-service and automation. He is the host of Syllable’s podcast, “Can Silicon Valley Save Healthcare?” He co-directed the Connecticut Institute for Primary Care Innovation and has presented nationally on the concept of the primary care office of the future and population health. Adam has dedicated this portion of his professional journey to helping to create a system that will have the capacity to care for his mother without his intervention. He received his BA in Geography at Middlebury College, his MD at the Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine and completed his residency at the Northwestern University School of Medicine.

Keep the Pulse, Friends!

LISTEN: “Follow” or “subscribe” to Friends of Project Healthcare on your favorite podcast platform.

REVIEW: Go to Apple Podcast at projecthealthcare.com/apple and leave a (hopefully) 5-star rating and creative review.

Friends of Project Healthcare Podcast

Brought to you by Nashville Entrepreneur Center

More news from EC