Nuance, Microsoft to Develop Ambient Clinical Intelligence Technologies Designed to Reduce MD Burnout

Oct. 17, 2019

Aiming to tackle an ongoing challenge in healthcare—reducing physician burnout often caused by IT—Nuance and Microsoft are partnering to accelerate the delivery of ambient clinical intelligence (ACI) technologies designed to power the exam room of the future.

Officials say that with the new innovation, “clinical documentation can write itself.” The Nuance-Microsoft partnership brings together technologies from both companies, including Nuance’s healthcare-optimized speech recognition and processing solutions such as its Dragon Medical platform already used by more than 500,000 physicians worldwide; advanced conversational AI for ambient clinical documentation and decision support; voice biometrics; and specialized ambient sensing hardware. On the Microsoft side, the company’s Azure, Azure AI and Project EmpowerMD Intelligent Scribe Service, backed with advanced conversational AI and natural language understanding, will be leveraged, officials noted.

Physician burnout, a hot-button issue in healthcare these days, is at epidemic levels, according to officials from the two companies. A commonly cited study shows that primary care doctors now spend two hours on administrative tasks for every hour they’re involved in direct patient care. Physicians reported one to two hours of after-hours work each night, mostly related to administrative tasks.

As such, working in tandem with long-term electronic health record (EHR) partners to develop the technology, ACI will aim to deliver engaging interaction between clinicians and patients. Through patient consent, ACI will synthesize patient-clinician conversations, integrate that data with contextual information from the EHR, and auto-populate the patient’s medical record in the system, officials contend.

“Physician burnout has become one of the most important concerns facing the healthcare industry today,” James Linder, M.D., Nebraska Medicine CEO, said in a statement. “We’re excited about the early results of ACI to help clinicians focus more on patients. We look forward to the innovations our two trusted partners, Nuance and Microsoft, will deliver together.”

The companies will expand upon Nuance has already accomplished with ACI, and expect to introduce the technology to an initial set of physician specialties in early 2020.

Built on Microsoft Azure, this new technology will marry the two companies’ strengths in developing ambient sensing and conversational AI solutions, including ambient listening, wake-up word, voice biometrics, signal enhancement, document summarization, natural language understanding, clinical intelligence and text-to-speech, officials say.

As part of the agreement, Nuance will migrate the majority of its current on-premises internal infrastructure and hosted products to Microsoft Azure.

“The Microsoft partnership will accelerate our ability to solve for healthcare’s most pressing challenges — together,” said Mark Benjamin, Nuance CEO. “The ambient technologies we will jointly deliver can improve productivity and professional satisfaction, while empowering doctors to focus on what they do best: take care of patients.”

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