Nuance acquires mobile-focused image-sharing company Accelarad

By Jonah Comstock
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Accelarad's mobile app. Accelarad's mobile app.

Nuance Communications has acquired cloud-based medical image sharing company Accelarad for an undisclosed amount and is launching Accelerad's technology, combined with Nuance's existing networks, under the new name PowerShare Network.

"There are 1,900 users connected to [Accelarad's] network today, actively sharing images," Christy Murfitt, director of solutions product marketing for diagnostic solutions at Nuance, told MobiHealthNews. "One of the things that was so attractive about this model is that healthcare really should be moving into the modern age, and we want this type of interaction to be like Dropbox or LinkedIn -- very light, very easy. And it makes sense for us, given our huge footprint in the industry, that we hear about the frustration and we want things to be seamless. We know that this addition to our solution portfolio will really tear down those walls and the silos of communication and improve patient care."

According to Murfitt, medical imagery is currently shared between institutions via CDs that are either sent through the mail or delivered with the patient when he or she is transferred. In addition to being costly, about 20 percent of the time the receiving organization can't access the images and must re-do the X-ray or scan, which creates a significant amount of waste.

PowerShare Network will allow doctors and radiologists at any hospital in the country to share images and reports, including X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, EKGs, wound care images, and dermatology images, with one another over the cloud. The offering will be a freemium model -- doctors will be able to receive images for free, but will need to become paying customers to send them. Murfitt anticipates fast growth, given 1,900 Accelarad users already on the system and even more existing Nuance customers who are likely to adopt; the company's PowerScribe system for radiology note-taking counts half the nation's radiologists among its users.

Doctors can access these images on personal computers or on iOS devices, with Android support as a possibility in the future. Murfitt said mobile was a key consideration in Nuance's choice to acquire Accelarad.

"We are seeing an increase in the use of mobile devices inside the hospital within the hospital walls," she said. "You can access these images via workstation or mobile device. Fifty percent of Accelarad’s customers actually access their images through mobile devices. The image quality, the viewing quality has been a focus for this solution. … And that really is something that is critical to this industry moving forward."

Nuance quietly bought Accelerad about a month ago, according to Murfitt. The Atlanta, Georgia-based business has been around since 1999 with no reported funding. When Life Image CEO Hamid Tabatabaie wrote about rumors of the acquisition in a recent blog post, he said the company does about $6 million a year in sales.