Nuance buys AI voice assistant startup Saykara

Nuance Communications has acquired artificial-intelligence startup Saykara, Nuance said Monday.

Seattle-based Saykara offers a mobile app that uses so-called “ambient listening” to automate clinical documentation for physicians—meaning the AI voice assistant “listens” in the background during a patient’s visit with a physician and automatically documents notes in the electronic health record system.

The startup, founded in 2015, is part of a growing market of software tools working to reduce the documentation burden on providers.

Nuance did not disclose financial details of the transaction in its announcement.

The acquisition builds on Burlington, Mass.-based Nuance’s recent move to focus research and development resources on AI documentation tools for healthcare, which the company’s CEO Mark Benjamin previously has called a “high-growth, high-impact” area. Nuance has been building up its own ambient listening capabilities through work with Microsoft Corp.

Saykara will contribute to the “long-term product roadmap” for Nuance’s own ambient listening tool, which is called Nuance DAX, said Benjamin on a call with investment analysts Monday.

Saykara’s engineers and executives will join Nuance’s research and development team as part of the deal, according to Nuance. That includes Saykara CEO Harjinder Sandhu, the startup’s founder and a former vice president and chief technologist in Nuance’s healthcare research and development division.

Sandhu previously co-founded a separate speech recognition company for the healthcare industry, called MedRemote, which was also acquired by Nuance in 2005.

Nuance on Monday reported revenue from its cloud-based healthcare offerings were up 28% year-over-year in the first quarter of the company’s fiscal 2021, which ended Dec. 31. The company posted $345.8 million in first-quarter revenue, down 4.4% year-over-year, and $31.5 million in operating income, down from $36 million during the same period in fiscal 2020.


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