IBM has announced its plan of procuring Merge Healthcare Inc. which provides medical images to Watson, in a bid to enhance physicians’ ability in providing better assistance to patient-care decisions. IBM’s planned acquisition is set to give a “vision” to Watson Health platform by adding “rich image analytics,” the tech company’s press release said.
“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 percent of all medical data today—but they also present challenges that need to be addressed,” the press release continued.
One challenge common in the medical data field as mentioned in the press release is the fact that medical images continue to be “largely disconnected from mainstream health information” especially “at a time when the most powerful insights come at the intersection of diverse data sets.”
Making Watson ‘See’
But with IBM being part of the team, Watson Health Cloud would be leveraged in analyzing and cross-referencing medical images against lab results, genomic tests, electronic health, clinical studies, to mention a few. It does this by comparing medical images—to be provided by IBM—with patients’ image history and detect anomalies or changes.
“As a proven leader in delivering healthcare solutions for over 20 years, Merge is a tremendous addition to the Watson Health platform. Healthcare will be one of the IBM’s biggest growth areas over the next 10 years, which is why we are making a major investment to drive industry transformation and to facilitate a higher quality care,” IBM Research and Solutions Portfolio Senior Vice-President John Kelly said.
“Giving Watson ‘eyes’ on medical images unlocks entirely new possibilities for the industry,” Kelly added.