IBM to buy Merge for $1 bn to bolster Watson capabilities

IBM Watson Merge
IBM today announced its deal to acquire Merge Healthcare, a provider of medical image handling and processing, for $1 billion in cash, to bolster the capabilities of Watson.

For more than 25 years, Merge is helping to reduce costs, improve efficiencies and enhance the quality of healthcare worldwide. More than 7,500 U.S. healthcare sites and clinical research institutes and pharmaceutical firms are using Merge’s technology platforms to manage medical images.

IBM aims to bring together Watson’s image analytics and cognitive capabilities with data and images obtained from Merge Healthcare’s medical imaging management platform.

At $7.13 per share in cash, Merge is IBM’s third major health-related acquisition – and the largest – since launching its Watson Health business unit in April, following Phytel (population health) and Explorys (cloud based healthcare intelligence).

“Healthcare will be one of IBM’s 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,” said John Kelly, senior vice president, IBM Research and Solutions Portfolio.

The acquisition bolsters IBM’s strategy to add rich image analytics with deep learning to the Watson Health platform.

Merge’s clients could compare medical images with a patient’s image history as well as populations of similar patients to detect changes and anomalies. Insights generated by Watson could then help healthcare providers.

IBM’s Watson Health unit plans to bring together Merge’s product and solution offerings with existing expertise in cognitive computing, population health, and cloud-based healthcare intelligence offerings.

Baburajan K
[email protected]