IBM on Thursday said that it would buy Merge Healthcare, which provides medical images and clinical systems, for $1 billion and combine it with its Watson Health analytics unit “in an effort to unlock the value of medical images to help physicians make better patient-care decisions.”
Merge’s technology platforms are used at more than 7,500 U.S. healthcare sites, as well as clinical research institutes and pharmaceutical firms to manage a growing body of medical images. IBM said those organizations could use its Watson Health Cloud to surface new insights from a “consolidated, patient-centric view “of current and historical images, electronic health records, data from wearable devices, and other related medical data.
“Watson’s powerful cognitive and analytic capabilities, coupled with those from Merge and our other major strategic acquisitions, position IBM to partner with health care providers, research institutions, biomedical companies, insurers and other organizations committed to changing the very nature of health and healthcare in the 21st century,” John Kelly, senior vice president, IBM Research and Solutions Portfoli, said in a press release. “Giving Watson ‘eyes’ on medical images unlocks entirely new possibilities for the industry.”
Under terms of the deal, expected to close later this year, Merge shareholders would receive $7.13 per share in cash. It is IBM’s third major health-related acquisition — and the largest — since launching the Watson Health unit in April.