Nuance to buy Focus Informatics

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Speech solutions provider Nuance Communications announced an agreement to acquire Focus Informatics of Woburn, Mass., a speech recognition editing services company.

This acquisition will expand Nuance’s offerings in web-based speech recognition editing services and accelerate the company’s strategy to automate manual transcription in healthcare, where an estimated $15 billion is spent worldwide each year, Nuance said.

According to Nuance, Focus’ technology and services portfolio, in conjunction with the Dictaphone iChart Web-based transcription solutions, will provide an efficient and scalable Internet delivery of automated transcription as a service.

Focus Infomatics serves some of the U.S.’s largest healthcare organizations such as Ardent Healthcare, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“The pressing requirement for automation in the healthcare industry presents a significant opportunity for the adoption of Nuance speech-enabled solutions,” said Paul Ricci, chairman and CEO at Nuance. “In particular, Focus’ outstanding reputation for speech editing services and highly-skilled workforce will support the rapid growth of iChart, our hosted speech-enabled transcription service. By combining Nuance’s premier speech technology and Focus’ proven services, we expect to accelerate our objective to eliminate manual transcription.”

Nuance expects the acquisition to add between $7 million and $9 million in Dictaphone healthcare revenues in fiscal year 2007 and between $18 million and $22 million in fiscal year 2008. The acquisition is expected to close by March 31.

“It is clear that speech recognition is now an essential component of medical dictation and transcription as the healthcare industry drives toward efficiency and automation,” said Anirudh Baheti, CEO of Focus Infomatics. “Focus’ customers have benefited substantially from speech technology for some time and our combined offerings fit naturally with the way doctors and medical practitioners work. We are delighted to join Nuance as the company has quickly become the industry leader for end-to-end healthcare transcription solutions.”