Burlington, Mass.-based Nuance Communications Inc. and IBM (Armonk, N.Y.) recently announced that the companies are working to advance the state-of-the-art in Clinical Language Understanding (CLU) technologies that will enable healthcare organizations to understand and use the clinical information contained in the more than two billion patient reports dictated every year in the U.S. alone. As part of this agreement, teams of leading natural language processing (NLP) researchers at IBM and Nuance are collaborating to integrate the two companies' technologies. By working together, Nuance and IBM will advance the use of NLP technologies as a core component of electronic health record (EHR) workflows.
With a goal to transform healthcare clinical documentation through advanced technologies, Nuance and IBM are developing systems that will automatically extract and convert discrete, clinical data from clinician dictated narrative into actionable information that can be used to bring a more evidence-based approach to patient care. Advanced CLU capabilities, a healthcare specific form of natural language processing technologies, will help healthcare organizations unlock valuable patient information from the billions of medical reports that are created in a free-form, unstructured format each year. Access to this information will drive better and more cost-effective patient care across the healthcare industry and will strengthen organizations' efforts to comply with quality reporting and pay-for-performance requirements, such as those outlined in the HITECH Act's Meaningful Use criteria.
With these advanced CLU technologies integrated into Nuance's suite of speech recognition solutions, clinicians will be empowered to document via speech recognition into the EHR–the preferred method of documentation for many clinicians–knowing a CLU-enhanced system can process, identify and extract important clinical data elements such as problems, social history, medications, allergies, and procedures from the free-form, narrative text.