Microsoft on Monday announced that it will acquire Nuance Communications, a deal aimed largely at advancing cloud and artificial intelligence offerings for its healthcare clients .

Microsoft is purchasing Nuance for $56 per share – an all-cash trade totaled $19.7 billion, inclusive of Nuance’s net debt. The deal is expected to close later this year.

With the acquisition of Burlington, Massachusetts-based Nuance – that will double Microsoft’s total addressable market in the healthcare provider space, to almost $500 billion – the Redmond, Washington, computing giant will continue to boost its cloud-based decision support, AI-powered analytics and other cloud-based clinical workflow tools.

Mark Benjamin will remain CEO of Nuance, reporting to Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Cloud & AI at Microsoft.

With healthcare-focused products such as Dragon Ambient eXperience, Dragon Medical One and PowerScribe One for radiology reporting – all built on Microsoft Azure cloud – Nuance has pioneered conversational AI and nearby clinical intelligence for providers .

Its technologies are deployed in over three-quarters of U.S. hospitals and are used by over half of physicians and 75 percent of radiologists nationwide.

Nuance also provides enterprise artificial intelligence and customer engagement technologies – voice, virtual assistants, biometric alternatives – along with other sectors .

Microsoft says its technologies – in combination with Azure, Teams, and Dynamics 365 – can help advance next-generation tools for health care and other clients .

This big-ticket acquisition traces its origins to a partnership between Microsoft and Nuance, first announced back in October 2019, focused on nearby clinical intelligence to help streamline documentation tasks and alleviate clinician burnout.

Since then , Microsoft has broadened and advanced its own healthcare offerings, most notably the launch in May 2020 of Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare – its first industry-specific cloud product – which aims to assist health system customers with patient involvement , care coordination analytics and telehealth.

Healthcare IT News case studies have shown how Nuance voice documentation technologies can help health systems gain cost efficiencies and reduce clinician burnout.

“Nuance provides the AI coating at the healthcare point of delivery and is a pioneer in the real world program of enterprise AI, ” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a statement announcing the purchase .

“AI is technology ‘s most important priority, and healthcare is its most urgent application, ” he said. “Together, with our partner ecosystem, we’ll 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 in Healthcare and Nuance. “

“Over the past three years , Nuance has streamlined its portfolio to focus on the health and enterprise AI segments, where there has been accelerated demand for advanced conversational AI and ambient solutions, ” additional Nuance CEO Mark Benjamin.

“To seize this opportunity, we want the right platform to bring focus and global scale to our clients and partners to enable more personal , affordable and effective connections to individuals and care. The path forward is obviously with Microsoft —  who brings intelligent cloud-based services at scale and who shares our passion for the ways technology can make a difference. At the same time, this combination provides a vital opportunity to send meaningful and certain value to our shareholders who have driven and supported us on this journey . “

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
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