Nuance Acquires Medical Voice Assistant Startup Saykara
Nuance has acquired healthcare artificial intelligence startup Saykara for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition will bring the tech underlying Saykara’s voice assistant for doctors to Nuance’s conversational AI for medical professionals, specifically the ambient clinical intelligence (ACI) designed to reduce doctor burnout.
Saykara, founded in Seattle in 2015, provides a virtual assistant to doctors named Kara that can handle taking notes and filling out their electronic health record (EHR) and other paperwork. The startup built Kara to be able to understand what is being said in a conversation from context and collect and organize information with minimal commands needed, operating as an ambient assistant. At it’s best, Kara should eliminate the need for any note-taking and administrative duties, a frequently cited reason that doctors and other medical professionals quit the field. Saykara has claimed it can cut paperwork by two to three hours a day and eliminate 70% of the form-filling doctors typically have to do. Since it was founded, which has raised $9 million from investors
“The complementary technology built by the Saykara team aligns strongly with our technology portfolio and growth strategy as well as the needs of our clients,” Nuance CTO Joe Petro said in a statement. “This acquisition welcomes some familiar and highly respected technology leaders whom I am excited to have join our research and development team, which consists of the best and brightest minds in applying AI and machine learning to healthcare. With a shared vision, we will continue our aggressive focus on innovation, growth, and on delivering industry-leading AI-powered solutions that meaningfully address the compelling business problems that our healthcare clients and their clinicians face every day.”
Nuance has been upping its own health AI services at a steady clip, especially after partnering with Microsoft to upgrade and merge Nuance’s Dragon Medical Virtual Assistant with Microsoft’s Azure platform at the end of 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the upgrades, including virtual check-ups performed over Microsoft Teams with Nuance’s ambient clinical intelligence to transcribe the conversation and help fill in electronic health records. Health technology developer Cerner added the Dragon Medical Virtual Assistant to its platform a few months ago too, while in October, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) started using Nuance’s Dragon Medical One platform. All of these could soon incorporate Saykara’s features as well.
“I welcome the opportunity to rejoin the market leader in conversational AI and ambient clinical intelligence, and the impressive Nuance research and development team – especially at this important juncture in the development and adoption of these AI-powered healthcare innovations,” Saykara CEO Harjinder Sandhu said in a statement. “We are very familiar with Nuance’s advanced technology, domain expertise, and world-class technical team and share the company’s mission to make what matters to alleviate the clinical documentation burden on clinicians around the world.”