Nuance Launches Developer Contest for Voice-Enabled Mobile Health Apps

Nuance is challenging developers to use its cloud mobile health care platform to develop speech-recognition apps for mobile devices such as the Apple iPhone and iPad.

Nuance Communications has launched the 2012 Mobile Clinician Voice Challenge, a contest to get developers to integrate speech recognition into mobile or Web-based health care applications.

The company is calling on independent software vendors, internal development teams and health insurance providers to find new ways to incorporate speech recognition into their medical software. Nuance announced the challenge on Jan. 4.

"We're basically sending out an open query to the development community to develop state-of-the-art voice-enabled iPhone and iPad applications," Joe Petro, executive vice president of research and development for Nuance Healthcare, told eWEEK. "It's a competition of sorts so we can basically get the word out and solicit a community around the development of mobile speech and clinical understanding technologies."

Developers will use the Nuance Healthcare Development Platform to integrate Nuance SpeechAnywhere into mobile health care applications.

SpeechAnywhere is a cloud service that embeds and voice-enables devices using client-side software components from runtime libraries and plug-ins as well as mobile devices, thin clients, browsers and desktops.

"Dictation has proven to be among the most preferred, intuitive and effective ways to document clinical information," Janet Dillione, executive vice president and general manager for Nuance Healthcare, said in a statement. "By expanding access to Nuance's speech-recognition and Clinical Language Understanding capabilities, the Nuance Healthcare Development Platform is enabling application developers to unleash an entire new ecosystem of health care applications that will help clinicians and patients create and use high-quality clinical documentation better and smarter than ever before."

By incorporating speech recognition into mobile applications, doctors and nurses will be able to dictate their notes into patients' electronic health records (EHRs) on an iPhone or iPad or Android device.

"It's not unusual now to see a physician speak into an iPhone or iPad to drive documentation into the electronic health record," said Petro. "They can command and control the interface as well as capture information and documentation."

Developers will integrate the speech recognition into applications for the Apple iOS 4.2+ and Android 2.2+ as well as Web applications for Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.

The judges for the contest are Dillione; health care IT blogger Mr. HIStalk; Methodist Health System CMIO Dr. Steven Zuber; Dr. Andres Jimenez, CEO of EHR educational services provider ImplementHIT; and Jonathon Dreyer, senior manager for mobile solutions marketing at Nuance Healthcare.

"We're looking for the best implementation of voice recognition for the mobile clinician," said Dreyer in a Nuance video.

The deadline for submissions is Feb. 3. Nuance will begin notifying winners around Feb. 13 and announce results Feb. 20.

Nuance will feature winners of the challenge at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) 2012 conference in February. It will also include the winning applications in a licensing package for a year.

A model for the developers to go by could be Calgary Scientific's ResolutionMD mobile application, which allows radiologists to view streaming images on mobile devices and use their voices to document patient visits. Physicians can view 2D and 3D medical images on their mobile and Web-based devices.

"They used our cloud-based SDKs to provide a ubiquitous voice-enabled user experience across their supported devices and platforms," said Petro.

Nuance and its partners will judge the challenge based on four criteria: innovation, benefits to the physician workflow and patient care, functional implementation and visual appeal.

The company is also actively working with IBM and its Watson supercomputer to extract hidden data from physician notes using natural-language technology. Physicians will be able to access this data in mobile applications, Petro said.