Since world-renowned computer scientist John McCarthy first coined the term ‘artificial intelligence’ in 1965, it’s inspired IT experts to push the limits of what’s been deemed possible. Some decades later, Michael Finke got together with a group of Carnegie Mellon IT extra-ordinaires to make a go of speech recognition. From there, M*Modal was born and began providing clinical documentation and transcription services to their healthcare clients.
Carnegie spun out the Tennessee-based company in 2001 and they branded themselves as a conversational AI platform. “We founded the company around this topic,” the founder of M*Modal, Michael Finke, said in an interview. “How to make it easier for the doctor to capture information about a patient, how to save them time and how to make the notes more accurate than they used to be.”
But the business goes beyond allowing medical providers to transcribe their notes. “The doctors don’t want to directly dictate into the medical records,” Finke explained. “They use our transcription services. We use our speech recognition technology to create a document, and then we have people who work for our company who review it for the doctor so the doctor can confirm and sign off on it.”
Recognized as the largest clinical transcription service in United States, M*Modal has cultivated a global network of medical editors to ensure accuracy with clinician EHR entries. In addition, the business boasts that it syncs with over 200 electronic health record systems and auto-populates certain fields with the all the necessary information. They also offer advanced analytics tools to fully develop the patient narrative from unstructured data to improve patient care, physician satisfaction and lower operational costs. The business generates about $200 million in annual revenue.
In December 2018, American multinational conglomerate 3M purchased the transcription service at a premium $1 billion price tag. “This acquisition builds on our strategic commitment to invest in our health information systems business and expands the capabilities of our revenue cycle management and population health priority growth platform,” Mike Vale, 3M’s Executive Vice President, said in a prepared statement.
About 750 of M*Modal’s employees joined 3M’s ranks after the deal was inked. However, 3M will continue with their strategic partnership with M*Modal’s remaining transcription, scribing and coding services for customer support as this part of the deal was done. This deal represents one of 3M’s moves to become a big player in healthcare’s growing cloud computing market.
“Going to the extreme, that we could save lives with this, I think that should be a good message,” Finke said of the work done at the company. “I think it’s what motivates people to come here. We’re not using technology for better placement of advertisements. We focus on trying to do a good thing for health care.”