Nuance Leads In Burgeoning Healthcare Market

The healthchare industry is warming up to speech technology.

To drive efficiency and cost savings, the demand for speech recognition technology has become prevalent in the healthcare industry as the amount of patient data continues to increase, according to Utah-based research firm KLAS. That’s why the research firm last month released  "An Independent Report from Healthcare Executives and Professionals: Speech Recognition."

For the report, KLAS surveyed 300 healthcare professionals about their experiences with front- and back-end speech recognition vendors. KLAS evaluated various factors, including functionality, features (user interfaces, administrative tools, workflows), sales force, support infrastructure, and executive team.

KLAS also evaluated the following back-end solutions: Dolbey Fusion Speech, eScription EditScript, and Nuance EXSpeech. Nuance Communications, which was "recognized in the front-end speech recognition systems category taking the top two spots," according to a Nuance statement, can vouch for this sector’s interest in speech technology. Healthcare is the largest operating division at Nuance, according to Peter Durlach, the company’s senior vice president of healthcare marketing and product strategy.

The speech technology company offers various solutions—developed organically and through acquisition—which focus primarily on clinical documentation and communication solutions for healthcare provider organizations (i.e., hospitals, clinics, private practice). The use of speech recognition technology is "exploding," Durlach says.

Research by KLAS indicates that patient visits are rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3 percent, forcing healthcare providers to find better ways of handling the incoming data. In addition, the industry in general has established strict regulations emphasizing the need for healthcare providers to document precisely what they do and communicate the information effectively.

Historically, medical experts like radiologists, for example, have had to interpret images (e.g., MRIs), dictate their observations and interpretation, which is recorded and later transcribed by a transcriptionist within 24 to 48 hours. The text would later come back, and the doctor must then check for accuracy. When using a solution like PowerScribe for Radiology, the average radiology department reports that 85 percent of the work is done without any human involvement at all, amounting to approximately $200 million in savings.

Moreover, from the patient perspective, service is, "ten times better," Durlach says. Image readings can be communicated much more quickly, as opposed to having to wait days for results. The demand for such technology is unique from other verticals simply because, Durlach explains, "people can die." A significant amount of deaths and bad outcomes are not a result of patient misdiagnosis, he says; rather, the problem often lies in the failure to communicate information in an accurate and timely manner.

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