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Microsoft makes $19.7 billion investment into Healthcare Cloud
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

Microsoft made a massive investment into their healthcare cloud strategy this week by purchasing software developer Nuance Communications for $19.7 billion.

The deal, which marks Microsoft’s biggest acquisition since purchasing LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in 2016, is a logical next step for the company, as they’ve worked hard to define their vertical-specific cloud offerings over the past year.

At the same time, the acquisition caught many industry analysts by surprise, as few (if any) pegged Nuance for Microsoft’s next blockbuster deal, as rumored acquisition conversations for TikTok, Pinterest, and Discord all got headlines over the recent months.

The Nuance acquisition builds on an existing partnership with Microsoft, however, and allows them to leverage Nuance’s voice recognition, AI, and natural language processing to help refine the nascent Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare.

“Nuance provides the AI layer at the healthcare point of delivery and is a pioneer in the real-world application of enterprise AI,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “AI is technology’s most important priority, and healthcare is its most urgent application. Together, with our partner ecosystem, we will 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 for Healthcare and Nuance.”

One of the immediate goals of the collaboration is to help healthcare providers “alleviate burnout” by automating many administrative tasks that have only become more burdensome over the course of the pandemic. This includes creating an “ambient clinical experience,” which is designed to automatically document patient and doctor interactions and marry them into clinical reports and existing electronic health records.

Although Microsoft’s healthcare offerings will be the immediate benefactors of the deal with Nuance, there’s also potential positive implications for Microsoft’s enterprise customers broadly. While 62 percent of Nuance’s revenue for 2020 came from healthcare, the remainder of the company’s profits came from general business software that enhances AI and voice recognition across a wide range of use cases.

More users embrace telehealth

This acquisition lands right as digital transformation in the healthcare space seems to be accelerating at a full clip, as recent reports indicate digital initiatives like telehealth are now more popular than ever.

General awareness of telehealth jumped 48 percent overall during the pandemic, according to a recent Telehealth.com survey, while 59 percent of those who only learned of telehealth during the pandemic now say they prefer virtual treatment to in-person visits.

And when you look at larger pandemic trends, this “new normal” for healthcare makes a lot of sense.

According to the 2021 AppNeta Work From Anywhere Outlook, more than 20 percent of Americans moved during the pandemic (with almost 6 percent moving twice). This indicates that many folks may no longer be within the same physical proximity to their pre-pandemic healthcare providers, making telehealth a given of many new post-pandemic lifestyles.

To that end, many Americans are now evenly dispersed among suburban, rural, and large city/urban areas, according to the AppNeta Outlook. This calls for healthcare providers to put a renewed focus on striving to deliver optimal healthcare (both virtually and in-person) regardless of where their patients are located.

Healthcare IT teams need comprehensive visibility across their newly decentralized footprints to ensure that all stakeholders involved in delivering treatment virtually—SaaS and cloud providers, data centers, healthcare facilities, last-mile residential ISPs, etc.—are connected and performing.

To ensure that these apps and infrastructure are performing well, AppNeta deploys outside-in monitoring into the cloud environments delivering visibility into the business-critical applications and SaaS workflows that enable businesses to operate in a Work From Anywhere world.

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Filed Under: industry insights

Tags: artificial intelligence, AIOps, AI, Nuance, digital transformation, healthcare transformation, digital healthcare, virtual care, healthcare cloud, telehealth, healthcare, Azure, Microsoft Cloud, Microsoft, network management, network performance monitoring, network monitoring

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