In a recently reported acquisition, IBM is scooping up Merge Healthcare -- but what does that have to do with the famous supercomputer?
As we recently reported, IBM Corp. has announced that it will purchase medical imaging company Merge Healthcare for $1 billion, but as you may not know, this has significant implications for Watson, the supercomputer that rose to fame after trouncing Jeopardy! stars like Ken Jennings.
The reason why this is a big deal is that the new acquisition will be combined with IBM’s own health analytics unit, the same one where Watson works when he’s not answering trivia questions on a popular game show, according to a Reuters report.
As many people might not know, Watson wasn’t just a show of technology or a fun experiment for IBM — it’s serious business in the health world. Watson’s ability to recognize normal speech and comb through immense amounts of data is what makes it so useful in the medical world. This new unit could give Watson the tools to become even more effective, which is why IBM made the move.
Data and images that have been collected by Merge Healthcare’s medical imaging management platform will be combined with Watson’s cloud-based healthcare system, letting it analyze a huge amount of data while handling tough questions in a natural language, which could help physicians digest medical and family history data from patients, and then instantly combine it with available clinical research.
This could provide high-quality care to patients that is also cost-effective, and it’s the latest attempt by IBM to carve out market share in the healthcare information technology sector, it being the third time the company has acquired another company ever since launching “Watson Health” this spring. IBM will now have access to 7,500 healthcare sites around the country with this move.
Watson is essentially an artificial intelligence system that can answer questions that are posed in a natural language. It was developed as part of the DeepQA project by IBM, and was named after IBM’s first CEO, Thomas J. Watson.