Need to Know
- In a $16 billion deal, Microsoft has acquired healthcare AI company Nuance.
- The acquisition allows Microsoft to expand its tech “empire” and build on an existing telehealth partnership with Nuance.
- The move is the latest in Microsoft’s efforts to support pandemic relief, as the tech giant has unveiled a number of healthcare and work-from-home initiatives in the past year.
In a move designed to support its healthcare-specific customers and partners, Microsoft has acquired speech recognition company Nuance. The $16 billion deal will allow Microsoft to “empower healthcare providers through the power of ambient clinical intelligence and other Microsoft cloud services.”
The acquisition signals a move by Microsoft to expand its business empire among technology companies. The tech giant recently acquired chat app Discord and attempted to purchase the hugely popular social media platform TikTok.
Nuance uses AI technology to recognize speech and power voice responses, including the voice of Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri. In 2020, Microsoft first partnered with Nuance to launch the telehealth initiative Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare to address the needs of the rapidly changing healthcare industry.
“Nuance provides the AI layer at the healthcare point of delivery and is a pioneer in the real-world application of enterprise AI,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “AI is technology’s most important priority, and healthcare is its most urgent application. Together, with our partner ecosystem, we will put advanced AI solutions into the hands of professionals everywhere to drive better decision-making and create more meaningful connections, as we accelerate growth of Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare and Nuance.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically affecting the patient-provider experience, Nuance’s technology can offer a more streamlined approach to care that reduces the burden on healthcare providers.
In an example from the Nuance website, one provider explains, “By using speech recognition and my multistep commands, I spend less time documenting my visit notes and greatly improve their quality and readability.”
Nuance also provides healthcare organizations with a digital customer experience that features passwordless authentication, digital messaging, and DIY custom applications to address different client needs.
In support of the pandemic relief effort, Microsoft has launched several new initiatives. The tech giant in January joined The Vaccination Credential Initiative to develop a digital immunization record or vaccine “passport”.
In light of millions of workers moving to remote offices, and individuals planning virtual social events, the company also expanded its Teams tool to allow for personal use and this year launched Viva, a new all-in-one work-from-home platform.