Dictaphone lands on its feet, PowerScribe in hand

2002 05 02 13 20 17 706

Speech dictation and recognition firm Dictaphone is exhibiting at this week’s SCAR meeting with a new focus. The company has emerged from Chapter 11 reorganization after two years as a subsidiary of embattled voice recognition giant Lernout & Hauspie, and is once again a standalone.

As part of its divestment from L&H, Dictaphone acquired the Belgian firm's PowerScribe, a leading radiology speech recognition product that holds about half of the market, according to Dictaphone senior vice president Don Fallati.

Fallati said that Dictaphone is using its SCAR exhibit to feature PowerScribe -- and its new software enhancements for remote access and visibility with Web-enabling platforms. The Stratford, CT-based vendor is also conducting advance public relations for future software products that use a technology called "natural language processing." NLP -- known as "clinical language understanding" in medicine -- starts with text, rather than speech, and can be used to extract data in narrative reports for clinicians and administrative personnel.

An example of NLP would be a program that assists medical coders in identifying ICD (International Classification of Diseases) and CPT (Current Procedural Technology) codes. The software is not intended to eliminate coders, but could potentially assist in establishing consistency and saving labor.

Dictaphone took a long and winding path to reach its current destination. First L&H bought Dictaphone in March 2000, giving the Belgian company a large U.S. base of customers and plenty of good will. The following year, however, L&H found itself mired in an accounting scandal that forced it into bankruptcy. During that time, L&H’s profits spiraled downward, while Dictaphone continued to maintain a positive cash flow, according to Fallati.

"Dictaphone was always reasonably healthy within the parent company," Fallati said, "and we remained throughout a separate legal entity, which made it easier to legally separate as we have done now."

He said the company came out much stronger financially than it was going into bankruptcy. Moreover, he said, Dictaphone's emergence has removed a question mark some customers had about its viability, and whether they could be comfortable buying Dictaphone systems.

Dictaphone is now a private company -- one that doesn't have to file public reports. Its creditors own all its outstanding stock, and several of them, including three or four major European banks, have become equity stockholders. A new board of directors has been formed and new officers appointed. Dictaphone has a year to decide if it wants to register as a public entity. Fallati said the decision has not yet been made.

Dictaphone got all of the L&H PowerScribe assets, and is working to integrate the software with that of several RIS/PACS vendors. The company announced late last year that it has formed alliances with more than 20 digital image management vendors. Dictaphone is providing application-programming interfaces to most of these companies, which will permit integration of PowerScribe technology with their RIS and PACS products.

A recently released Dictaphone product is EXSpeech, which the company describes as a continuous telephone-based speech recognition solution that's integrated with Dictaphone's Enterprise Express voice and text management system. This speech recognition technology can be incorporated into patient information workflow, reducing transcription costs and speeding report turnaround.

Fallati said the R&D wing of Dictaphone was active throughout the reorganization period, with more than 100 workers, mostly engineers, in product development roles. The vendor expects to introduce new products using NLP technology in the next 12 to 18 months.

By Robert Bruce
AuntMinnie.com contributing writer
May 2, 2002

Related Reading

Dictaphone emerges from Chapter 11, March 29, 2002

Dictaphone gets court OK for reorganization, March 19, 2002

Dictaphone introduces browser-based VR software, January 30, 2002

Dictaphone to acquire PowerScribe for Radiology from L&H, October 17, 2001

Belgian L&H branches out to transcription technology, February 5, 2001

Copyright © 2002 AuntMinnie.com

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