IBM Acquiring Merge Healthcare for $1B

Big Blue just spent $1 billion to give Watson the ability to see. IBM's supercomputer is getting an upgrade with technology acquired from Merge Healthcare, which will add data and images to WatsonEUs advanced image analytics and cognitive abilities.

Merge Healthcare has made a name for itself providing medical image handling and processing, interoperability and clinical systems that work to advance healthcare quality and efficiency. The companyEUs goal is to unlock the value of medical images to help physicians make better decisions. Currently, over 7,500 U.S. healthcare sites are using its services.

So how exactly will Watson be able to see? IBM will tap the Watson Health Cloud to pull up insights from a patient-centric view of current and historical images, electronic health records, data from wearable devices and other related medical data. IBM was quick to point out this would all happen in a HIPAA-enabled environment.

Tapping a Mass Opportunity

EUHealthcare will be one of IBMEUs biggest growth areas over the next 10 years, which is why we are making a major investment to drive industry transformation and to facilitate a higher quality of care,EU said John Kelly, senior vice president, IBM Research and Solutions Portfolio. EUGiving Watson EUeyesEU on medical images unlocks entirely new possibilities for the industry.EU

IBM is indeed betting big on healthcare. This is Big BlueEUs third major acquisition in that sector this year. The company also acquired Phytel in the population health space and Explorys in the cloud-based healthcare intelligence arena. Since IBM has pegged medical images as the fastest-growing data source in the healthcare industry -- the companyEUs researchers estimate that they account for at least 90 percent of all medical data -- the Merge Healthcare acquisition is timely.

IBM did its homework and discovered the volume of medical images can be overwhelming -- some radiologists are presented...

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