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IBM’s buying of Merge Healthcare for $1B to enhance imaging capabilities for Watson


IBM on Thursday announced its plans to acquire Merge Healthcare for $1 billion,, in turn bringing enhanced imaging capabilities to the Watson Health portfolio. Merge Healthcare specializes in medical imaging software, and IBM is expanding int the healthcare analytics field for $1 billion.ibm-watson-merge-healthcare

As more than 7,500 medical facilities in the US make use of Merge’s technology, and more than 90 percent of medical data are images, this would mean a key acquisition for IBM. The technology platform is also used in clinical research institutes and pharmaceutical firms. The imaging tech would be used in IBM’s Watson’s engine to analyze CAT scans, X-rays and mammograms. Through Merge’s tech has processed more than 30 billion of X-rays, CT scans and MRIs.

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“Healthcare will be one of IBM’s biggest growth areas over the next 10 years,” said John Kelly, senior vice-president, IBM Research and Solutions portfolio. Keely also said:

“What’s happening is that scanning and imaging machines have gotten incredibly good. They are generating extremely dense images and images in motion in some cases. Doctors are overwhelmed by the content of these images. Watson will help the doctor interpret and understand these complex images.”

IBM’s Watson was launched as an analytics-based healthcare company, and IBM has been training the company to analyze images in its research centers for the past two years. The acquisition would make Watson easy to analyze complex medical images, in turn reducing the load for physicians and increasing their effectiveness. An IBM spokesman said that IBM Watson and Watson Health are set to enter into more landmark relationships and announce more technology advances.

Clients of Merge‘s Health will be able to use Watson Health Cloud, allowing them to compare new medical images with a patient’s existing image history, and with the history of similar patients to detect changes and anomalies. The acquisition is pending government approval, will help IBM to control a range of tech to interpret a trove of information. Seigel added that they were looking at how to apply faster and smarter computer technology for making more rapid diagnosis. For the total transaction of $1 billion, Merge shareholders would receive $7.13 per share in cash.

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