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IBM Watson Health ups ante in Big Data with $2.6B Truven acquisition
February 19, 2016 News

Truven Health Analytics CEO Mike Boswood, left, and IBM Watson Health General Manager Deborah DiSanzo, as IBM announces plans to acquire Truven for $2.6 billion.

IBM Watson Health has fired the latest shot in a budding healthcare Big Data arms race. Big Blue announced Thursday that it would acquire Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Truven Health Analytics for an attention-getting $2.6 billion.

This deal gives IBM access to 4 petabytes of healthcare claims and administrative data, as well as Truven’s roster of hundreds of scientists. “It’s not just about the data. It’s about expertise,” said Dr. Anil Jain, vice president of IBM Watson Health.

Combine that with the clinical and imaging information already on the Watson Health Cloud, and IBM Watson Health will have aggregate data on 300 million individuals, according to the company. “We’re trying to create a complete picture of the consumer,” Jain said.

“This is a step toward trying to complete the data picture,” Jain said. With its insights, IBM Watson Health wants to create actionable points within various clinical and administrative workflows.

This deal comes a month and a half after Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong’s NantHealth gained a foothold on the claims side by acquiring NaviNet. “I needed to integrate the three domains: knowledge, care delivery and payers,” Soon-Shiong said then.

In many ways, that is what IBM is doing with Watson Health. Mining data from both the payer and provider sides can create intelligence around continuous process improvement, according to Jain. “You can always combine data-driven insights with knowledge-based insights,” he said.

Like NantHealth, IBM has been busy snapping up companies to realize its analytics vision. The Truven acquisition represents Big Blue’s fourth major purchase in this sector in the last 10 months, among .

In April 2015, IBM acquired healthcare analytics company Explorys and population health service and technology provider Phytel, creating IBM Watson Health in the process. Four months later, Big Blue paid $1 million for Merge Healthcare, giving Watson the ability to “see” medical images.

“We’re trying to bring together best-of-breed organizations,” Jain said, in pursuit of the Triple Aim of more effective care, improved population health and lower healthcare costs.

IBM expects the Truven purchase to close later this year. It is going to take some time to integrate the massive Truven database into the Watson Health Cloud, Jain said.


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