Nuance helps launch healthcare AI industry group

Microsoft embraces Nuance to deepen its healthcare connections

Microsoft's purchase of AI company Nuance got Redmond's foot in the door of the healthcare industry, and it's widening the opening as Nuance helps form an industry group to explore applications of AI in hospitals and clinics.

Nuance and The Health Management Academy – a peer group made up of healthcare executives from the top 150 US hospital systems, announced on Wednesday the formation of The AI Collaborative. The Collaborative will specifically consist of Academy members from hospital groups that have already deployed or are deploying AI and ML systems in healthcare settings. 

AI has a wide range of applications in the healthcare industry, for many of which Nuance already has a product. One of its most well known is speech recognition and conversational AI platform Dragon Naturally Speaking, which is used by clinicians for speech recognition tasks like note taking and session transcripts. 

Aside from speech recognition, a paper on the potential for AI in healthcare published in the Royal College of Medicine's Future Healthcare Journal points out a number of other use cases – including using AI and patient data for predictive medicine, using image recognition to spot anomalies, radiomics, AI-assisted surgical robots, and robotic process automation for eliminating billing and coding tedium.

The AI Collaborative is kicking off in September 2022, starting with a visit to Microsoft's corporate headquarters and subsequent annual summits. The summits, Nuance elaborated in a statement, will discuss strategies for using data and insights culled from AI and ML to augment how care is delivered, reduce variations in care, and generally make hospital operations more efficient. 

Microsoft's purchase of Nuance was finalized in March of this year, and immediately gave the Windows maker a huge presence in the healthcare industry: According to Nuance, its technology is used in 77 percent of US hospitals.

Early this year the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an inquiry into whether the acquisition would lessen competition in the UK market. The European Commission launched a similar investigation, concluding in December 2021 that there were no competition concerns. 

The UK's CMA reached the same conclusion in early March, saying that the proposed merger "does not give rise to a realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition in any market in the UK."

While the Collaborative is a Nuance initiative, it's clear from the announcement that Microsoft is closely involved. We've reached out to Nuance to get more details on Redmond's role in the Collaborative, as well as whether any other organizations may be acting as founding members. ®

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