IBM's $1B Merge Healthcare acquisition plan could allow Watson to 'see': 6 things to know

IBM plans to acquire Merge Healthcare, a medical imaging management platform, for $1 billion.

Here are six things to know about the transaction and how IBM plans to add to Watson's capabilities.

1. Under the terms of the transaction, Merge shareholders will receive $7.13 per share in cash, for a total of $1 billion.

2. The transaction is still subject to regulatory review and Merge shareholder approval. Pending approval, the transaction is expected to close later this year.

3. The Merge transaction will be IBM's third largest healthcare-related acquisition, following the Phytel and Explorys acquisitions.

4. IBM expects that combining Merge's data and images with Watson's image analytics and cognitive capabilities will allow Watson to "see." "Giving Watson 'eyes' on medical images unlocks entirely new possibilities for the industry," said John Kelly, senior vice president of IBM's research and solutions portfolio.

5. IBM hopes to leverage the Watson Health Cloud to analyze and cross-reference medical images against data from EHRs, genomic results, clinical studies and more. Watson's insights could allow providers in multiple specialties to pursue more personalized approaches to patient care.

6. "Medical images are some of the most complicated data sets imaginable, and there is perhaps no more important area in which researchers can apply machine learning and cognitive computing. That's the real promise of cognitive computing and its artificial intelligence components — helping to make us healthier and to improve the quality of our lives," said Kelly.

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