If Nuance Communications (NSDQ:NUAN) had its way, medical transcription would be a two-way conversation between man and machine.
The company is looking to transform the transcription process into a back-and-forth between the physician and an intelligent software program that prompts for details and suggests potential courses of treatment based on a more holistic view of the patient story.
Nuance Healthcare develops advanced voice recognition technologies to capture, translate and code speech, most notably with its Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech recognition platform. Medical transcription makes up its largest sector, but the company dabbles in voice-controlled entertainment systems, vehicular functions and mobile devices.
The company announced in February that its medical speech recognition software would move to the cloud, providing users with new capabilities for speech-driven clinical documentation, voice navigation and automatic clinical fact extraction. Later that month Nuance partnered with IBM to explore ways that the Jeopardy-winning supercomputer Watson’s advanced analytic abilities could support the health care industry.
"We’re their bridge to health care," Carina Edwards, VP of health care solutions marketing, told MassDevice. "There’s so much potential for Watson, we just need to bring physicians together with engineers to think up hypotheses and use cases and then say ‘can watson answer that?’"
The plan is to commercialize a Watson-driven health care product within 18 months, Edwards told us. Though she couldn’t divulge any additional details regarding the IBM collaboration, she did outline Nuance’s plans to shift their focus from speech recognition to speech "understanding" technology. The comany’s pilot program of a new clinical speech understanding software at Banner Health is posting accuracy upwards of 90 percent, and the company hopes to bring a new product to market through a software developmen kit in October.
Last month the Dearborn, Mich.-based company announced that it partnered with Ford to develop more accurate voice-command technology to interpret intentions behind driver commands to help new users who aren’t familiar with exact speech codes acclimate to voice controls. In February the company announced a partnership with 3M Health Information Systems, the health care IT division of 3M Healthcare (NYSE:MMM), to develop a suite of next-generation clinical documentation and coding technologies to prepare companies for ICD-10, the latest medical classification coding system required for all HIPAA entities, which will go into effect October 1, 2013.
The company has also managed to snap up some interesting acquisitions this year, most recently with the announcement that they bought Webmedx, and Atlanta-based transcription and editing service which also runs an online medical speech editing and transcription school, for an undisclosed amount. In May, Nuance paid $157 in cash for Fla.-based Equitrac Corp., and in June nabbed Mass.-based SVOX AG for an undisclosed amount.