IBM to fork out $2.6bn to slurp data on millions of patients

Acquisition brings its creepy 'patient lives' total to 300 million

IBM is to shell out big again, this time on Truven Health Analytics, a health data firm, for a whopping $2.6bn. According to its canned statement, this brings the number of, er, "patient lives" represented in its health cloud to 300 million.

Touted as IBM's "fourth major health data-related acquisition in the past year", the acquisition will more than double what was spent on the previous three and take IBM's investment in healthcare capabilities to over $4bn.

It is potentially the third largest acquisition in IBM's history, following business intelligence firm Cognos being acquired for $5bn in 2008, and the acquisition of PWC Consulting from PricewaterhouseCoopers for $3.5bn in 2002.

According to IBM, its health cloud will now "house one of the world’s largest and most diverse collections of health-related data, representing an aggregate of approximately 300 million patient lives acquired from three companies."

Big Blue had acquired Merge Healthcare for $1bn last year, to help teach the Watson Health tech to crunch medical imaging data; though Merge is not believed to have brought in any "patient lives" data.

IBM had previously slurped up analytics company Explorys and healthcare management business Phytel for undisclosed amounts, bringing in 50 million and 45 million "patients' lives" respectively.

Truven, it may be thus inferred, brought in 205 million patient lives. According to IBM, Truven's data and insights reportedly "inform benefit decisions for one in three Americans."

Big Blue will also be picking up 8,500 clients from Truven, as well as its cloud-based data set spanning a wide range of "cost, claims, quality and outcomes information."

Watson Health will be expanding its workforce to more than 5,000 employees, "including hundreds of clinicians, epidemiologists, statisticians, healthcare administrators, policy experts and healthcare consultants who will join the IBM business unit."

“Truven’s impressive team, extensive client roster, and expansive data sets complement Watson Health's broad-based team, capabilities and offerings.” said Deborah DiSanzo, general manager for IBM Watson Health. ®

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