Microsoft has agreed to acquire healthcare technology firm Nuance Communications. The two businesses will combine solutions and expertise to deliver new cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities in healthcare and other industries.
The transaction is expected to close before the end of 2021. Upon completion, Mark Benjamin will remain CEO of Nuance and report to Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of cloud and AI at Microsoft.
The acquisition builds on Microsoft’s efforts to provide industry-specific cloud offerings, such as the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare introduced in 2020, which Microsoft says aims to “address the needs of the rapidly transforming and growing healthcare industry”.
Nuance delivers conversational AI and ambient clinical intelligence solutions to healthcare providers. Its products include the Dragon Ambient eXperience, Dragon Medical One and PowerScribe One for radiology reporting, all clinical speech recognition software-as-a-service offerings built on Microsoft Azure. Its solutions integrate with Electronic Health Records for improved clinical documentation processes and “empower providers to deliver better patient experiences,” says Microsoft.
“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 of 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.”
Microsoft’s acquisition of Nuance builds on the firms’ existing partnership that was announced in 2019. By augmenting the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare with Nuance’s solutions, Microsoft says that it will be better able to empower healthcare providers through the power of ambient clinical intelligence and other Microsoft cloud services.
“Over the past three years, Nuance has streamlined its portfolio to focus on the healthcare and enterprise AI segments, where there has been accelerated demand for advanced conversational AI and ambient solutions,” said Mark Benjamin, CEO of Nuance. “To seize this opportunity, we need the right platform to bring focus and global scale to our customers and partners to enable more personal, affordable and effective connections to people and care.
“The path forward is clearly with Microsoft – which brings intelligent cloud-based services at scale and which shares our passion for the ways technology can make a difference. At the same time, this combination offers a critical opportunity to deliver meaningful and certain value to our shareholders who have driven and supported us on this journey.”
Beyond healthcare, Nuance provides AI expertise and customer engagement solutions, including Interactive Voice Response, virtual assistants, and digital and biometric solutions. With the new acquisition, Microsoft will use this expertise alongside its own cloud solutions such as Azure, Teams, and Dynamics 365, to deliver next-generation customer engagement and security solutions.