IBM Corp said it would buy medical image company Merge Healthcare Inc. in a $1 billion deal and combine it with its newly formed health analytics unit. IBM plans to combine data and images from Merge Healthcare's medical imaging management platform with Watson's cloud-based healthcare computing system. The system analyzes high volumes of data, understands complex questions posed in natural language and proposes evidence-based answers.
The deal will help physicians and researchers collate and analyze data such as patient's medical and family history, data on others with similar symptoms and clinical research, trials and outcomes. Imaging is central to effective diagnosis and treatment, but it is increasingly important to share these images between providers to deliver high quality, cost-effective care
IBM has been expanding aggressively in the healthcare IT sector. The Merge deal is the company's third major health-related acquisition since launching the Watson Health unit in April.
With this acquisition IBM will get access 7,500 U.S. healthcare sites.