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Nuance Communications Inc. (NUAN), Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc (MDRX): The Rise of Speech Recognition Technology in EHRs

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For many physicians, traditional point-and-click software templates in electronic health records, or EHRs, are considered an inefficient way to document patient data. However, the use of these templates to record structured data is a critical part in qualifying for the Meaningful Use financial incentives from Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive programs.

According to a survey from Nuance Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:NUAN), however, there is more at stake than money. Although 69% of physicians surveyed stated that the primary incentive to EHR adoption was stimulus money, 75% requested better tools within the EHR suite. An overwhelming 93% stated that their EHR program hadn’t reduced the time necessary to document patient care.

67% of doctors stated that the dependence on a keyboard and mouse to document patient data was too time consuming, and 74% stated that EHR templates had “no uniqueness” and throttled the full potential of EHRs.

Nuance Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:NUAN)Most importantly, 79% of physicians stated that more efficient documentation could be achieved by merging EHR point-and-click templates with a physician narrative.

Two leaders in speech recognition
That’s where two leaders in voice recognition software — Nuance Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:NUAN) and Medquist subsidiary M*Modal — come in.

Nuance Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:NUAN) produces clinical language understanding, or CLU, software that listens to a physician dictate patient data and intelligently extracts the information to be recorded into a template without a single click. It also produces natural language understanding, or NLU, and natural language processing, or NLP, software so physicians can issue the EHR software spoken commands, just as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS users do with Nuance’s most famous NLU product, Siri.

M*Modal also produces natural language software that can be integrated into a wide variety of software and hardware. Both Nuance Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:NUAN) and M*Modal use cloud-based voice recognition products that can carry over learned data between devices. This means that the voice recognition is no longer device or software specific, but customized to entire medical practices and their staff.

The evolution of cloud-based CLU and NLU software has opened the door to new medical scribe products, such as Nuance Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:NUAN)’s 360 Healthcare mobile products and voice-recognizing mobile EHR software.

Allscripts and Greenway
Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc (NASDAQ:MDRX)
 uses technology from both Nuance Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:NUAN) and M*Modal in its EHR products. Last year, Allscripts also incorporated M*Modal’s speech recognition technology into its Sunrise Mobile MD II EHR app for the iPad. Although Sunrise has been a popular choice with physicians who requested more mobile EHR products, it is still tethered to its desktop EHR program.

Last year, a Silicon Valley start-up, drchrono, released the first native iPad app that was not dependent on a desktop-based EHR program. The app proved immensely popular, and Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc (NASDAQ:MDRX) responded by releasing its own native EHR app, Allscripts Wand, which uses the iPad’s Siri interface to document patient data. Its recently released successor, Wand 2.0 for Enterprise EHR, even includes an app store to download specific medical apps.

In 2011, Greenway Medical Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:GWAY) added voice recognition capabilities to its EHR by integrating M*Modal’s NLP engine into its PrimeSPEECH product. PrimeSPEECH allows physicians to dictate patient data, and is assisted by an embedded medical dictionary, spell check, and speech correction capabilities. The engine directly stores information back into its PrimeSUITE EHR software. The information can be accessed through its mobile platform, PrimeMOBILE, which is available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phones.

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