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In what could bring a massive boost to IBM’s Watson Health Analytics platform, the American tech behemoth has now announced its proposal to acquire Merge Technologies, a company which provides image processing capabilities to over 7500 healthcare centres across the US.

IBM will pay a staggering $1 Billion for this acquisition, in a purchase expected to close later this year.

The acquisition will hold strong significance, specially for IBM’s Watson health platform, a part of IBM’s larger Watson Analytics Suite. Combined with image processing platform of Merge, IBM’s Watson cognitive computing system will get powered with the ability to see medical images.

In fact, the acquisition also underlines the paramount importance which IBM is giving to Watson’s Healthcare offering, even though the computing platform is available in several other domains. But then, healthcare looks the most lucrative option in present and near-future scenario.

Medical images are by far the largest and fastest-growing data source in the healthcare industry and perhaps the world – IBM researchers estimate that they account for at least 90% of all medical data today. However, the company feels, that there are still several challenges posed by the huge amount of data which gets processed in image processing. Watson could help Merge’s tech on that front.

Under terms of the transaction, Merge shareholders would receive $7.13 per share in cash, for a total transaction value of $1 billion.  The closing of the transaction is subject to regulatory review, Merge shareholder approval, and other customary closing conditions, and is anticipated to occur later this year.

It is IBM’s third major health-related acquisition – and the largest – since launching its Watson Health unit in April, following Phytel (population health) and Explorys (cloud based healthcare intelligence).


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