L&H's acquisition of CAMS' assets ushers in birth of voice-enabled electronic patient record

Ieper 02 September 1999Lernout & Hauspie has acquired the assets of Computer Aided Medical Systems Limited (CAMS), a United Kingdom based company which developed the ReadEngine and whose founder created the Read Code Terminology which serves as the coding standard for medical records in the UK. The acquisition significantly expands L&H's market presence in Europe by giving it immediate access to a potential customer base of 1.4 million UK health care workers and diversifies L&H's medical reporting solutions family. L&H plans to combine its speech recognition technology and Natural Language Technology (NLT) with the ReadEngine to voice-enable and further automate the medical coding process.


CAMS' leadership in the Read Code Applications allows L&H accelerated entry into the electronic patient records market in the UK. The acquisition gives L&H enhanced presence in Europe and entry to the Medical Coding Market. The purchase price for the acquisition is 3.8 million pounds (approximately $6 million), with an earn out of 2 million pounds. In return, L&H has acquired all the assets of CAMS, including the ReadEngine software; expertise in Read Code implementation; an extensive network of key suppliers, clinicians and health care organizations; and CAMS' 14 employees. L&H expects that the acquisition will be accretive in 2000.

Over the past few years, L&H has successfully grown its medical market presence for speech-enabled clinical documentation offerings through new product introductions, strategic alliances and acquisitions, as stated by Gaston Bastiaens, president and CEO of L&H. By adding coding to L&H's strong medical dictation solutions, the CAMS acquisition helps the company to create a comprehensive medical reporting solution and an opportunity to tap into the multi-million dollar coding and electronic patient records market. The acquisition also expands the customer base and helps L&H to harness the tremendous market opportunity in the UK and Europe, as Mr. Bastiaens believes.

The Read Codes, invented by CAMS' Chairman and founder Dr. James Read, OBE, are a national thesaurus of clinical terms which enable patient data to be standardized and shared among health care professionals. The codes cover general medicine, radiology and other specialities, and enable the recording of detailed electronic patient records in a consistent manner. The Read Code's structured hierarchy allows users to easily conduct clinical outcomes audits and research, access historical data and make epidemiological comparisons via the mappings. The Read Codes also support hospital management, billing and decision making processes.

The ReadEngine is a software developers kit (SDK) that incorporates not only the Read Codes, but also a hierarchical terminology or classification, giving systems integrators the ability to develop market-independent solutions. The Read Codes map to other major coding systems commonly used in health care worldwide, including the World Health Organizations International Classification of Diseases codes, known as ICD-9 and ICD-10. Additionally, the UK government and the College of American Pathologists (CAP) recently agreed to combine the Read Codes with CAP's Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine (SNOMED RT), commonly used in the United States. The Read Codes' ability to share information among these various coding systems provides a key part of the basis for a worldwide standard for computerizing clinical terminology.

Dr. James Read believes that the speech user interface is the keystone to enabling simple, convenient interaction between humans and technology, and that speech is the final link to allowing all clinicians to use the electronic medical record to improve the health of individuals and populations. The integration of L&H's advanced, multi-lingual speech and language solutions with CAMS' products, services and expertise will increase productivity and simplify access to medical information, he adds. Computer Aided Medical Systems (CAMS) supports users and developers of health care systems worldwide. CAMS' aim is to enable clinicians to effectively use information to improve patient care and to give developers the tools to create high quality health care applications.

For the past nine years CAMS has had the sole marketing rights to distribute and support Read Codes Version 3 and earlier versions of the Read Codes both within the UK and worldwide. CAMS is the accepted authority in the medical coding field with a vast client network and important on-going relationships within the UK and beyond. CAMS has developed a powerful set of software tools to drive, update and analyse terminology and classification systems. The company offers a wide range of health care market solutions and products including the ReadEngine; ReadMARCA, a series of customized Read Code subsets; ReleaseManager; CamsCoder; and CIRA, a CAMS computerized incident reporting software package.

More details on a unified international terminology supporting the integrated electronic medical record, are to be found in the VMW article Snomed RT and Read Codes to be combined into an international terminology of health in the June 1999 issue. More acquisition news with regard to Lernout & Hauspie is available in this current issue's article Finalization of Fonix acquisition gives L&H resources to offer enterprise wide health care reporting solutions.

Leslie Versweyveld

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