IBM spent $1 billion to boost Watson’s medical capabilities

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Watson’s medical capabilities got a significant boost late last week after IBM dropped $1 billion to acquire medical image company Merge Healthcare and combine its technology with Watson. Healthcare has always been the industry where IBM’s artificial intelligence has the most potential and giving Merge Healthcare’s vast amounts of medical data and images to Watson brings it one step closer to fully realizing that potential. 

IBM today announced that Watson will gain the ability to “see” by bringing together Watson’s advanced image analytics and cognitive capabilities with data and images obtained from Merge Healthcare Incorporated’s medical imaging management platform. IBM plans to acquire Merge, a leading provider of medical image handling and processing, interoperability and clinical systems designed to advance healthcare quality and efficiency, 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 most of the world’s leading clinical research institutes and pharmaceutical firms to manage a growing body of medical images. The vision is that these organizations could use the 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, in a HIPAA-enabled environment.

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