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Nuance buys Accelarad, launches image HIE platform


By Joseph Conn
Posted: April 17, 2014 - 8:00 am ET
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(Story updated at 12:45 p.m. ET.)

Nuance Communications, a Burlington, Mass., developer of speech recognition and natural-language-processing software, is expanding its traditional beachhead in radiology and other image-using clinical professions by acquiring Accelarad, a provider of cloud-based imaging exchange services.

Terms were undisclosed.

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Acquisition of the Atlanta-based Accelarad closed “three or four weeks ago,” said Peter Durlach, senior vice president of marketing and strategy for the healthcare division of Nuance, but the company waited until today to announce it along with the launch of what it is calling its Nuance PowerShare Network, a Web-enabled health information exchange for joined clinical images and reports.

The onset of accountable care organizations and other forms of value-based reimbursement will require sharing of both reports and images across care sites, Durlach explained.

About 1,600 care sites use Nuance imaging products, Durlach said. Its PowerScribe software is integrated with many of the major electronic health-record systems and their radiology information systems, using speech recognition technology to convert a clinician's vocal interpretation of an image into a document of findings. These same clinicians also output images, so, “connecting the images with the reports became an obvious extension of that,” he said.

That's where Accelarad's 1,900 imaging customers and the cloud come into play. Using cloud-based services also will speed up implementation of Nuance's new network, Durlach said.

“PowerShare will enable physicians to manage inbound imaging through one point of access and login,” Deborah Gash, vice president and chief information officer at St. Luke's Health System, Kansas City, Mo., said in a news release. “Physicians in our 11 hospitals and 100-mile radius referral network see this cutting-edge technology as a way to deliver the highest level of patient care.”

The network has been pilot-tested at two hospitals in North Carolina and Boston, Durlach said, but he declined to identify them.

Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn


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