Nuance Integrates Dragon Medical Virtual Assistant to Cerner Health Record Platform
Health technology developer Cerner will add Nuance’s Dragon Medical Virtual Assistant to its platform as part of a new agreement between the two companies. Dragon will enable doctors using Cerner’s platform to fill in and search electronic health records (EHRs) of patients by voice more efficiently, saving time and potentially slowing any potential burnout, a common reason for leaving the medical profession.
Nuance launched the Dragon Medical Virtual Assistant in 2017 as an expansion to its existing Dragon transcription program. The voice assistant comes with enough medical vocabulary to understand (and correctly spell) the terms a doctor uses, speeding up the process of filling out paperwork, and adding notes to EHRs by letting doctors dictate instead of type. Using the voice assistant to auto-populate the EHR cuts down on data entry time, which many physicians may feel eats up too much of their day. According to a study last year in Annals of Family Medicine, doctors spend twice as much time doing administrative work as patient care. Plus, it’s safe to assume the burdens of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis have not eased the time and energy demands on medical professionals. Fatigue from extending work-hours for data entry can also play a role in doctors making dangerous mistakes.
“Health systems and their care teams are facing unprecedented challenges as they strive to deliver great patient care while dealing with extreme financial pressures and a worldwide pandemic,” Cerner vice president and physician executive Tanuj Gupta said in a statement. “At Cerner, we are committed to continuing to deliver leading-edge AI-powered solutions, leveraging our open platform approach, to reduce the administrative burden on care teams so they can focus on the patient. With digital transformation happening at a breakneck speed, we are excited to expand our leading AI-enabled technology offerings with Nuance to help us fulfill this mission.”
Healthcare AI has been booming in general, and for medical virtual assistants in particular. For instance, last fall, Nuance and Microsoft agreed to deploy Dragon Medical with Microsoft’s Azure platform. Startups are also competing in the space, like medical voice assistant developer Saykara, has raised $9 million, while rival Suki has raised in $40 million for both its standalone assistant and as a feature integrated into other products like Amazon’s Amazon Transcribe Medical, an automated transcription service for medical professionals. The current COVID-19 health crisis has only accelerated interest. It’s part of why Nuance beat analyst expectations for the most recent quarter, with a 10% rise in healthcare revenue over the last year. Nuance already provided some technology to Cerner’s platform, but the new arrangement expands beyond that earlier deal. It also means even more doctors using Dragon Medical beyond the more than 550,000 Nuance says currently use the voice assistant.