US-based technology and consulting firm IBM has agreed to acquire medical image firm Merge Healthcare, for around $1bn.
As part of the deal, Merge will receive $7.13 per share in cash from IBM.
Merge provides medical image handling and processing, interoperability and clinical systems for its healthcare customers.
IBM intends to combine Merge’s medical imaging management platform with its Watson’s advanced image analytics and cognitive capabilities.
Watson, which is delivered through the cloud, analyzes high volumes of data, understands complex questions presented in natural language, and proposes evidence-based answers.
IBM research and solutions portfolio senior vice-president John Kelly said: "Watson’s powerful cognitive and analytic capabilities, coupled with those from Merge and our other major strategic acquisitions, position IBM to partner with healthcare providers, research institutions, biomedical companies, insurers and other organizations committed to changing the very nature of health and healthcare in the 21st century."
The technology platforms of Merge are currently used by around 7,500 US healthcare sites, in addition to the clinical research institutes and pharmaceutical firms to manage their growing body of medical images.
In addition, Merge offers clinical trials software with end-to-end study support in a single platform and other intelligent health data and analytics solutions.
Merge Healthcare CEO Justin Dearborn said: "Becoming a part of IBM will allow us to expand our global scale and deliver added value and insight to our clients through Watson’s advanced analytic and cognitive computing capabilities."
Subject to regulatory and other customary closing conditions, the deal is expected to complete later this year.
Image: IBM intends to integrate Watson’s advanced image analytics and cognitive capabilities with data and images obtained from Merge’s medical imaging management platform. Photo: courtesy of IBM.