Voice Takes its Place as Digital Front Door to Better Patient Experience

medical AI

Patient experience is ripe for change, and because bedside manner and precision both matter, voice is at the center of plans to reshape medicine to be more effective — and human.

The explosion of cloud-based platforms using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve patient journeys and medical decisioning began before the pandemic. Like everything else, developments are being pushed along faster because of it.

See also: Healthcare’s Use of Voice Tech Seen as ‘Game Changer’ for Diagnostics, Patient Experience

Reporting earnings for its first fiscal quarter on Monday (Feb. 7), Nuance Communications continues innovating via its cloud-based conversational AI for doctors and hospitals, with healthcare cloud revenue increasing 28% year over year to $321.4 million.

The company has been on a mission to bring radical change to documentation and outcomes.

“By connecting patient engagement solutions like [AI-powered interactive voice response systems] to other organizational systems — including EHR, CRM, and billing systems — providers can access patient information and power a more personalized, automated experience or help agents resolve escalated queries more easily,” Nuance said on its blog on Wednesday (Feb. 9).

So far this year, Nuance has been busy building out capabilities in the space. It launched a specialized digital assistant in January, and on Tuesday announced that it is acquiring Saykara, which make a mobile AI assistant that automates clinical documentation and the growing field of ambient clinical intelligence, where AIs “listen” to doctor-patient conversations and can detect and analyze conversational subtleties that humans may miss during examinations.

Speaking with analysts, Nuance CEO Mark Benjamin said, “With an estimated 84% of patients under 40 looking for a provider that uses advanced patient engagement technology, we are excited to help organizations address the urgent need to transform the access and delivery of care in the modern age of digital medicine and we feel we are perfectly positioned to naturally extend our customer engagement solutions into our strong base of hospital systems.”

See also: The Why Behind Microsoft’s $19 Billion Nuance Buy

Nuance’s acquisition by Microsoft is now expected to be completed in March, pending approval by British regulators. The deal is seen as expanding voice-based AI capabilities for Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, which in turn will bring Nuance tech to more enterprise users.

Adding momentum to these maneuvers, in January Microsoft announced formation of the Artificial Intelligence Industry Innovation Coalition — dubbed “AI3C” — saying, “The AI3C will provide recommendations and advice on a wide array of AI topics including responsible healthcare innovation, health equity and workforce transformation to reduce clinical fatigue.”

That coalition brings together Brookings Institution, Cleveland Clinic, Duke Health, Intermountain Healthcare and Microsoft, among several other organizations.

What happens next as Nuance officially becomes part of Microsoft remains to be seen.

However, Nuance’s Dragon Medical One platform and Dragon Ambient eXperience (DAX) solution are considered at the forefront of interactive voice recognition and natural language understanding, which have the potential to revolutionize the patient-physician relationship, transforming every point of the journey from clinical documentation to treatment choices to outcomes.

See also: Microsoft’s Nuance Deal Under Review by EU