L&H to acquire Fonix' Articulate Systems Division and launch medical market's first continuous speech dictation and reporting solution

Ieper 19 May 1999 Lernout & Hauspie (L&H), the Flemish expert company in speech technology, has signed an agreement to acquire substantially all the assets of the Fonix Healthcare Solutions Group (Articulate Systems). The move is expected to transform L&H into the leading provider of speech and language technology solutions to the medical market. The additional product offerings and resources obtained from this acquisition will allow L&H to expand its continuous speech product offerings from departmental-oriented solutions to those that address the total health care enterprise. The agreement will add the award-winning PowerScribe Radiology and Emergency Medicine systems, its blue-chip customer base and the sales, marketing, client services and development staff to L&H's Industry Solutions Group.

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Lernout & Hauspie (L&H), the Flemish expert company in speech technology, has signed an agreement to acquire substantially all the assets of the Fonix Healthcare Solutions Group (Articulate Systems). The move is expected to transform L&H into the leading provider of speech and language technology solutions to the medical market. The additional product offerings and resources obtained from this acquisition will allow L&H to expand its continuous speech product offerings from departmental-oriented solutions to those that address the total health care enterprise. The agreement will add the award-winning PowerScribe Radiology and Emergency Medicine systems, its blue-chip customer base and the sales, marketing, client services and development staff to L&H's Industry Solutions Group.

The acquisition calls for L&H to purchase the Fonix division for $24 million in cash, with an additional $4 million earn-out spread over two years based upon performance. There is significant synergy between the two companies' health care offerings. PowerScribe and the L&H Clinical Reporter products use different, but complementary approaches to reduce costs and improve productivity for medical market reporting and billing practices. In addition, the approach applied by PowerScribe can be very easily localized, allowing L&H to leverage its expertise to quickly develop different language versions of the product for international deployment. Thus, a new solution that addresses the needs of the total health care enterprise worldwide can be created.

The combination of L&H Clinical Reporter, L&H Voice Xpress for Medicine and PowerScribe gives L&H a leading position in the radiology market and a winning solution that can reduce transcription costs for today's health care organizations, according to Gaston Bastiaens, president and CEO of L&H. Industry analysts claim that medical transcription currently is a $6 billion market, representing one of the largest opportunities for speech applications. Based on the strengths of new solutions and the clear market need to reduce costs, L&H is in an ideal position to successfully target this opportunity and become the undisputed leader, as stated by Bastiaens. L&H already has a strong market presence in over 400 hospitals. As a result, it is able to add significant additional resources to grow the PowerScribe business in a way not presently achievable by Fonix, as stated by Thomas Murdock, president and CEO of this company.

Approximately 40 employees from the Fonix HealthCare Solutions Group, 16 of which are active in the Research & Development Division, will become part of the L&H Industry Solutions Group, to provide continuity and support for PowerScribe customers and strategic partners. Fonix HealthCare Solutions Group serves renowned medical institutions, like Emory University Hospital, Duke University Medical Center, Cornell Medical Center that is better known as the New York Presbyterian Hospital, Shands Hospital at the University of Florida and many more. Fonix Corporation is based in Salt Lake City, Utah with offices in Boston and Cupertino, and provides solutions to make human interaction with computers and other intelligence appliances more simple and convenient.

The Fonix suite of products and services includes speech and handwriting recognition, and text-to-speech technology. The products provide natural, intuitive solutions that allow people and their technological tools to speak to and interact with each other in human terms. Fonix Healthcare Solutions Division, formerly Articulate Systems Inc., is an acknowledged leader in the application of advanced speech recognition technology to the health care market with the PowerScribe line of integrated dictation and transcription systems. Fonix technology produces and enhances tools offered by Fonix and its partners and is included in computer and Internet based systems and devices for consumer, professional and industrial markets.

The PowerScribe system cost effectively and rapidly captures, transcribes and manages dictated clinical information across a network. By combining advanced continuous speech recognition technology with state-of-the-art digital dictation capabilities, PowerScribe provides health care organizations with cost savings, faster report turnaround time and other benefits without ever sacrificing physician acceptance or transcription accuracy. PowerScribe allows users to dictate their reports directly into text, edit, approve and sign them all within a matter of minutes. Once their reports are dictated, doctors can have them automatically transmitted to various hospital or departmental information systems via industry standard protocols. PowerScribe is based on a scalable Client-Server architecture which utilizes Microsoft SQL Server database and Internet networking protocols.

In turn, L&H is widely recognized for continuous speech dictation solutions for horizontal and vertical markets, including the health care sector. The L&H Clinical Reporter product assortment offers an interactive reporting solution, allowing doctors to use a Windows-based PC to instantly access patient records and create complete reports that can use continuous speech and natural language voice commands. The L&H Clinical Reporter solution uses structures or free-text reporting and incorporates medical knowledge-bases, which have been compiled from over a decade of medical experience. The products are available in a general medicine or specialized emergency medicine, pathology, primary care and radiology editions. Clinical Reporter eliminates transcription costs, improves patient care and turn around time, and accelerates availability of pertinent patient data.

The L&H Voice Xpress for Medicine family of products allows doctors and other health care professionals to quickly and easily create, format and edit documents by voice. The products employ continuous speech recognition and Natural Language Technology (NLT), allowing speech to serve as a user interface for document creation and editing on a personal computer. It provides instantaneous automated transcription of medical evaluations, initial assessments, consults, progress notes, discharge summaries, testing reports, history & physicals, and referral letters. L&H is making the speech user interface (SUI) the keystone of simple, convenient interaction between humans and technology, and is using advanced translation technology to break down language barriers. For more information, we kindly refer to the VMW article Dutch pathologists soon to use Voice XPress integrated speechware for digital report dictating in the April 1999 issue.


Leslie Versweyveld

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