Speech Luminaries: From Recognition to Understanding

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In naming M*Modal to its 2010 list of “Cool Vendors in Healthcare Providers,” analyst firm Gartner identified the Pittsburgh-based company, led by entrepreneur and scientist Michael Finke, as one offering “innovative and potentially transformative solutions” for healthcare delivery organizations. 

A pioneer in advanced speech understanding technology and on-demand conversational documentation services (CDS), M*Modal was one of only five firms to receive the honor, which Gartner awards every year to firms that offer solutions it deems “innovative, impactful, and intriguing.”

Gartner’s analysts, and our own editors, were impressed with M*Modal’s AnyModal CDS solution, which captures clinical facts and physician orders from conversational speech without the need for doctors to change their normal speaking styles. 

According to Gartner, “because M*Modal processes voice to textual and structured data outputs in one step, its process has a better chance of being correct and complete. The clinician has only one review, viewing the text and a table of precise clinical statements about the patient, and identifying missing information. M*Modal takes this a step further by attempting to infer the missing data and offering it to the physician to review.”

Gartner analysts also were intrigued by M*Modal’s cloud-based offering, noting it “enables simpler support and service-based pricing” and “allows learning that occurs through the correction process to be shared with all users rather than locked up in user-specific data files.”

They acknowledged voice recognition and natural language processing as “consistently identified by chief medical informatics officers...as the emerging technology areas that will most significantly impact care delivery and the practice of medicine.”

Creating that kind of conversational speech understanding has been Finke’s lifelong passion. Before founding M*Modal, he co-founded Interactive Systems Inc. (ISI), a provider of conversational speech understanding for the healthcare, telecommunications, automotive, and media and entertainment markets. As chief technology officer of ISI, which was acquired by Lernout & Hauspie in 2000, he was the principal architect and developer of the ISI conversational speech technology portfolio. His efforts in conversational speech also have earned him awards from the German government and the U.S. National Institute of Standards.

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