IBM Watson Health expands data reach with $2.6bn Truven purchase

IBM Watson Health announced late last week that it is to acquire Truven Health Analytics, a company which holds health data on around 300 million patient lives.

The $2.6 billion purchase is a major expansion in the reach of IBM Watson Health, the first ever ‘cognitive computing’ service, which analyses huge volumes of data to help shape healthcare decision-making.

Truven has more than than 8,500 clients, including US federal and state government agencies, employers, health plans, hospitals, clinicians and life sciences companies.

IBM says its health cloud will house one of the world’s largest and most diverse collections of health-related data once the integration is complete. The acquisition is IBM’s fourth major health data-related acquisition in the past year since launching Watson Health in April 2015.

It follows the purchase of Phytel (population health), Explorys (cloud-based healthcare intelligence) and Merge Healthcare (medical imaging). Watson Health has also quickly forged alliances with a number of leading companies in the technology, healthcare and pharma sectors, including Apple, Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson, Novo Nordisk, and CVS Health.
“With this acquisition, IBM will be one of the world’s leading health data, analytics and insights companies, and the only one that can deliver the unique cognitive capabilities of the Watson platform,” said Deborah DiSanzo, general manager for IBM Watson Health.

“Together, we’re well positioned to scale globally and to build first-in-class offerings designed to help our clients apply cognitive insights in a value-based care environment.”

IBM says it is responding to the emerging model of value-based healthcare, which aims to improve the quality of care while controlling costs and driving better near- and long-term health outcomes for individuals.

It says payment model means providers, payers and other stakeholders must have evidence — data and insight — to document how specific elements of care contribute to achieving a target health outcome for a given cost.

IBM Watson’s most recently announced alliance with a pharma company was with Novo Nordisk in December. The companies are teaming up to create a ‘virtual doctor’ to uncover new data insights and help diabetes patients to better manage their condition.

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