IBM’s $1B deal for Merge intended to feed imaging to Watson’s brain

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Global computing powerhouse IBM plans to acquire Chicago-based Merge Healthcare for $1 billion, a clear sign that IBM wants to grow its healthcare footprint further through its Watson technology.

Merge, a publicly traded company that makes the technology behind medical imaging systems, will be bought out for $7.13 per share.

IBM made its big splash into healthcare this year with the acquisition of Cleveland Clinic spinoff Explorys, a cloud-based analytics company. At the same time, the company announced it would dub its healthcare analytics division Watson Health and announced partnerships with Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic to collect and analyze healthcare and medical device data.

IBM has been working for years to teach its Watson super-computing platform to think about healthcare. With the Merge deal, the company aims to help Watson “envision” healthcare.

The acquisition, which is pending regulatory approval but could close by yearend, is a step by the Armonk, N.Y.-based company to leverage a decade of research into various forms of image analysis, including healthcare imaging, and channel it into products and services, said Shahram Ebadollahi, the vice president for innovations at IBM and the chief science officer of the IBM Watson Health Group, which launched in April.

Read the full article: Modern Healthcare

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