Nuance ramps up its healthcare commitment in Europe

By Armin Scheuer
02:13 PM

Two major events within the space of a couple of days underline U.S.-based Nuance’s strong interest in growing within the European healthcare market. In addition to introducing SpeechMagic 7, Nuance’s chief marketing officer and vice president global sales Steve Chambers outlined his vision of speech-controlled healthcare.

On Wednesday, Munich hosted the “Nuance Conversations 2009”, the first event of its kind in Germany. A day later, the European Nuance Healthcare Partner Meeting took place in Vienna. This two-day event brings together customers and companies that are involved in implementing speech recognition technology in medicine.

In Vienna, Nuance announced the introduction of its speech recognition platform, SpeechMagic 7, which supports more than 25 recognition languages and includes the latest generation of speech recognition technology, as well as improved user-specific adaption, a new client, an updated workstation and support for Microsoft Windows 7.

In Munich, Chambers outlined the direction Nuance will take in terms of speech technologies in the healthcare sector. Although the use of speech recognition to create medical documents remains the single most important application area, the issue is far more complex, he said. “We are looking into ways of expanding voice control in healthcare, for example the control of surgical lasers," said Chambers. "In telemedicine, too, voice control will become much more important, in particular when it comes to video conferencing.”

On a more general note, Chambers said that voice would play an increasingly important role in a variety of applications which, although relevant to healthcare, were not necessarily tied exclusively to it. “We see huge opportunities in speech recognition-based workflow applications as well as voice-based mobile communications,” he said. Speech recognition is a means of tackling issues which many healthcare systems are struggling with at the moment, argued Chambers. “It can play a fundamental role in terms of whether we can afford healthcare in the future, because of the potential economic benefits.”

Chambers also commented on the healthcare strategy of Nuance in Europe following the recent takeover of Philips Speech Recognition Systems. “Our intention is for the product portfolio to evolve into one platform for dictation and transcription. In our primary healthcare markets, i.e. Germany, France and the UK, we are also seeking opportunities in medical transcription services, similar to the outsourcing services that are available in the US,” he said.

To demonstrate how far speech recognition has come in terms of transcription quality, Nuance arranged an “Amazing Race” at the Munich Conversations. Germany’s fastest typist took on Nuance’s speech recognition solution, Dragon, transcribing one and a half pages of dictation. The typist managed around 600 characters per minute - not enough to beat speech recognition. It took her 4.3 minutes to finish the document, whereas Dragon completed the job in just 2.5 minutes. There were no mistakes in any of the documents, the company said.

Source: HealthTech Wire