Posts Tagged 'philips'

And the Winner is…

 All right, where were we? Back in November, Philips had announced its intention to sale its 70% ownership interest in transcription software company Medquist, however leaving the crucial question unanswered: who would take over custody? The Dutch Giant showed up on stage again yesterday, providing the audience with a much clearer roadmap. So the winner is…

  • CBay Systems Holdings (AIM: CBAY) (“CBay”)
  • Sale price: USD 11.00 per share, or “approximately USD 285 million (approximately EUR 185 million). The USD 11.00 per share purchase price represents a premium of 47% over the most recent trading price of MedQuist’s stock.”
  • Big picture: “The acquisition of the approximate 69.5% shareholding in MedQuist will complement CBay Systems Holdings’ existing portfolio of businesses in medical transcription, healthcare technology, and healthcare financial services, including CBay Systems & Services Inc, CBay Systems Private Ltd. and Mirrus Systems.”
  • Time frame: “The sale of Philips’ stake in MedQuist is expected to close during the third quarter of 2008, and is conditional upon applicable regulatory approvals, approval by CBay shareholders at a general meeting of shareholders, and the fulfillment of specific closing conditions.”
  • Payment: “In connection with this transaction, Philips will receive cash and a promissory note equivalent to approximately USD 7.50 per share, amounting to approximately USD 195 million (approximately EUR 125 million). The remaining per share consideration of approximately USD 3.50 per share will be paid to Philips in the form of a 7-year bond convertible into common stock of CBay.”
  • Accounting wise: “The financial results related to this transaction, which are expected to be immaterial, will be booked under “Discontinued Operations” in Philips’ third quarter 2008 results.”

    (source: Philips, May 22, 2008 press release)

What a cool start for MEDQ Saga, Season Two…

HIMSS08 Wrap-up

HIMSS 2008 - Orlando Looks like speech recognition has left Star Trek to enter the mainstream. Hot like the southern breeze itself this year in Orlando, SR attracted crowds like never before. While physician skepticism seems to have vanished like a David Copperfield act, an increasing number of healthcare facilities came by the Crescendo and Philips booths to discuss technology advancements and upcoming implementation projects. These projects are bigger than ever, with a number of large healthcare groups looking to equip hundreds of physicians from multiple specialties with back-end SR, front-end SR, or both, by the end of the year. In this regard, attendee interest shifted from “does the technology work?” towards “how are other hospitals and clinics actually implementing it?”

Crescendo booth Philips Speech Recognition Systems booth
Crescendo booth Philips booth

No wonder crowds gathered in front of the Philips booth on Wednesday to listen to Dr. Stephen Rosenthal’s presentation on wireless speech recognition in the ER. For those who couldn’t make it, here is a little video best of (download may take a while):

Wireless & Physician Mobility Streamlining ER documentation
Physicians don’t like complex stuff… Heavy accents?
Speech recognition workflow More time with patients…
Highly accurate, shareable reports

This wireless speech recognition project provides an exciting preview of tomorrow’s connected hospital, in which speech recognition plays more than one role. Beyond the productivity improvements for physicians, SR also delivers a reliable foundation for the electronic chart and evidence-based medicine by creating reliable, clinically-actionable content. HealthImaging & IT will be covering these topics in their April issue, which will feature an article on the future trends in speech recognition. Check the blog for a sneak peek!

In the meantime, there are more healthcare IT shows on the North American agenda. We look forward to seeing you there!

MedQuist Saga Update…

MedQuist Saga Update… Following a November 07 announcement in which Philips mentioned that they were reviewing their options for shelving in MedQuist, Philips CFO Pierre-Jean Sivignon said on January 21 that they were “hoping to finalize this in the near future.”

On the other hand, MedQuist’s activist shareholder Costa Brava Partnership III LP, which currently holds 1,938,821 shares (5.2% of the total outstanding), sent a letter to the MedQuist board expressing concern about whether the interests of minority stockholders were being fairly represented in the proposed sale of MedQuist. Costa Brava said they “will hold the MedQuist board of management liable if minority shareholders do not receive benefits equal to majority shareholder Royal Philips Electronics NV ahead of a possible sale of the entire company.” >More

…to be continued…

Risking a SpeechMagic-Dragon Comparison?

Risking a SpeechMagic-Dragon Comparison? I was at an Emergency Medicine Congress earlier this week, attending an all-day workshop on healthcare IT. After a morning spent discussing the advancement of the Electronic Health Record, the afternoon was dedicated to speech recognition technology and the various projects taking place across the province. One doctor was explaining how he was using off-the-shelf Dragon as an enterprise solution, much to the peril of his own productivity, let alone the protection of patient data. Another physician was presenting a facility-wide project involving SpeechMagic being integrated into a dictation/workflow system. By listening to these guys, I got the feeling that Dragon appears to be a great solution for individual doctors (i.e.: small physician offices) willing to spend the time “training” the software, while SpeechMagic clearly sets apart as a professional solution more equipped to fit the needs of large healthcare facilities. Here is why:

Pricing
On a licence-to-licence basis, Dragon comes out cheaper than SpeechMagic. However, when looking at concurrent pricing, the gap shrinks. Concurrent pricing takes into account the fact that all physicians don’t use the system at the same time, a flexibility reflected in Philips’ pricing model, who offers 2:1 and 3:1 SpeechMagic licences (1 license for 2 or 3 physicians that don’t operate on the same shift). Dragon doesn’t seem to offer the concurrent pricing option to date.

Shared vocabulary / corrections
The question of shared vocabulary was raised at one point; another area where Dragon and SpeechMagic differentiate. I understood that you could share vocabularies and corrections by downloading a special file from the Dragon website, but it wasn’t very clear, while on the SpeechMagic side, corrections from one author are automatically shared with other authors, which significantly accelerates the system’s learning curve. Then again you couldn’t expect much less of a network solution, could you?

Initial training
All in all, what blew me away is the amount of training required by Dragon. One of the physicians was suggesting other Dragon users to follow the initial dictation exercises offered with the software in order to reach acceptable accuracy: 50 dictations for the physician to do prior to being fully operational! Once again, I doubt that even 5% of the physician population would be willing to put in so much time and efforts, and who can blame them? Another physician in the audience using SpeechMagic explained that his team was operational right away, without having to “train” the software to their individual voice characteristics. So I find funny to see how the whole “initial training myth” is still very much alive – Dragon being the sole reason behind it – when professional technology has eradicated it long ago.

Workflow
As important as the speech recognition software are the file management and workflow aspects, which are simply non-existent with Dragon. File transfer, electronic signature, distribution: you figure it out. That’s where healthcare facilities need to be careful upon investing: yes speech recognition can be valuable to their staff, as long as it comes along with other tools to ensure that technology adapts the way they work, and not the other way round:

  • Workflow management automation: ability to activate speech recognition for certain times/users/work types/departments only, leaving all options open. For instance, a facility can decide that short reports can be reviewed by Authors in front-end mode, while more complex and detailed work can be routed to transcription for correction as a standard or on the fly.
  • Electronic signature: ability to assign a legal value to all reports completed by a physician.
  • Distribution: ability to fully automate the distribution of final reports as per rules set by the hospital (fax distribution to referring physician, e-mail distribution to nursing staff, etc.)

A standalone speech recognition software cannot deliver all this. And that’s not its “job”. That’s why companies like Philips do not sell SpeechMagic directly, but only through a number of dictation and workflow systems vendors that have worked with the medical field for years and that understand its complexity and unique requirements.

File storage and confidentiality
More distressing is the file storage issue, which directly falls under the HIPAA (US) /PIPEDA (Canada) regulations, both very strict on the subject. One doctor using Dragon explained how all of his completed reports were stored on his laptop. Then what happens if the laptop is stolen? Unless the hospital’s provides dedicated server space, those files are at risk, but then again, it’s up to the hospital to enforce a central storage policy. But is it really their role? I believe it is the technology provider’s to provide a clear and reliable answer to the confidentiality problem. The way a system like Crescendo-SpeechMagic addresses the issue is as follows: files are always kept on a central server at all times, leaving zero footprint of confidential information on users’ PCs. When a user needs to edit or listen to a dictation, voice files are streamed – as opposed to copied – to users’ desktops. If a PC is stolen, it’s a hardware loss, period.

Medical dictionaries
Potatoe-Patatoe. Both products offer a similar choice of medical dictionaries, covering general medicine and a number of specialties, in a wide range of languages. The only question mark I have is regarding the French Canadian language: I know SpeechMagic offers a specific model for French Canadian, while it is not clear to me whether Dragon simply sells its French-from-France model in Quebec.

Well, I think I have covered the main points, which to me, only reflect the development history of both products. SpeechMagic was designed as a network solution while Dragon was originally made for individual users in the consumer world. That’s why a licence-to-licence price doesn’t make any common sense in my opinion, nor adding a “Pro” sticker on a product make it acceptable for professional use. I am even tempted to conclude this SpeechMagic-Dragon comparison thread by saying both products shouldn’t…be compared in the first place (duuhh!)

Philips Gets Rid of MedQuist

Philips Gets Rid of MedQuist Another major transaction-to-be in what could be called the supermarket of healthcare IT businesses… Philips confirmed yesterday its intention to sale its 70% ownership interest in transcription software company MedQuist (Pink Sheets:MEDQ) and take a fourth-quarter charge of 320 million euros (> more on the financial aspects here). This announcement follows a number of telltale press releases from earlier this year:

  • July 6, 2007: Philips indicated it was reviewing all of its future options with respect to its stake in MedQuist, which it now viewed as a non-core holding.
  • October 4, 2007: MedQuist announced that it had become current in its SEC filings.

A bit of history

MedQuist isn’t exactly the happiest investment a giant like Philips could have been dreaming of. 1.3 billion is the total amount Philips paid for its stakes in the Mount Laurel, NJ, company back in 2000. Only 3 years later, class action suits questioning Medquist’s billing procedures started piling up, leading to its delisting from Nasdaq in June 2004 after failing to meet reporting requirements. The company was then investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission over alleged improper billing and the Department of Labor over administration of its 401(k) retirement plan.
> More on the MedQuist billing controversy

More recently…

Adding to an already heavy conjuncture, another MedQuist stakeholder surfaced on October 30 with a “missive seeking to inspect the medical billing company’s shareholder list, books and other records for the past seven years”, according to a regulatory filing on Tuesday. In this letter, the shareholder, Costa Brava Partnership III LP, “demands that such an inspection take place on or before Friday, Nov. 9, 2007.” > More

About MedQuist, Inc.

MedQuist, which has a $416 million stock market capitalization, provides medical transcription technology and services in the United States. It also offers digital dictation, speech recognition, electronic signature, and medical coding technology and services.

Bizjournals.com reports that MedQuist cut 104 positions during the third quarter of 2007, and has about 8,000 employees who work as medical transcriptionists, service technicians, certified coding specialists, sales associates and engineers.


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