Cochlear to buy audiology software firm Sycle

The Australian implant maker said it will use Sycle's software solutions as it continues the rollout of its services in the US.

Hearing implant maker Cochlear has entered an agreement to buy audiology software company Sycle for up to $78 million.

Sydney-based company Cochlear will pay $56 million in cash upfront and then settle the balance over the next three years based on business performance, with the purchase to be funded by existing debt facilities, the company said.

Sycle's cloud-based practice management software for hearing professionals is currently being used by more than 7,000 clinicians in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada to streamline marketing, financing, and patient communications.

Based in San Francisco, Sycle has a 70 percent market share in the US industry, according to Cochlear, with Cochlear CEO and president Chris Smith calling the acquisition a "strategic investment".

"Sycle offers a market-leading practice management solution with a product suite that can be expanded to provide a solution for Cochlear implant clinics," Smith said in a statement.

"This acquisition will enable our partners to enhance clinic efficiency, freeing up more time to deliver patient care."

Cochlear provides implantable hearing aid solutions, individually configured for each patient's medical needs.

The company's Cochlear Link product also transfers data to the company in real time to global clinical support staff and repair technicians via the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud.

Cochlear began using AWS after it became too slow a process to deliver its clinical software. The delay had been preventing the company from delivering software updates, such as new patch releases, in real time.

"Our clinical software was [previously] distributed on CD, and that took up to four weeks to put the CD into production, to get the CDs produced, and then we'd ship them out to the regions and they are physically shipped out to the clinics," said the company's chief software architect Victor Rodrigues.

"All we need to do now is upload it through our system and just make the software available via a link. Our professionals would go and register and download it."

Cochlear Link now synchronises its data between an outreach centre and a main clinic, meaning that an implant user no longer needs to visit the clinic as their device is analysed remotely.

The company is also looking into applying machine-learning techniques for the future to "analyse the data a little bit more intelligently to assist recipients in their journey", Rodrigues added.

Cochlear reported net profit of AU$189 million for the 2016 financial year, an increase of 30 percent year on year. Cochlear's R&D spend also increased during FY2016 to AU$143 million, representing approximately 12 percent of its sales revenue.

However, the company said it may have to send its R&D overseas as a result of the federal government's tax cuts.

With AAP