IBM ac­quires med­i­cal imag­ing firm to help Wat­son ‘see’

The China Post - - BUSINESS INDEX & -

IBM said Thurs­day it was boost­ing the ca­pac­ity of its Wat­son su­per­com­puter, ac­quir­ing the med­i­cal imag­ing group Merge Healthcare for US$1 bil­lon.

The new group will be in­te­grated into IBM’s Wat­son Health plat­form, which sifts through vast amounts of re­search and med­i­cal data to help health pro­fes­sion­als im­prove treat­ment.

“The planned ac­qui­si­tion bol­sters IBM’s strat­egy to add rich im­age an­a­lyt­ics with deep learn­ing to the Wat­son Health plat­form — in ef­fect, ad­vanc­ing Wat­son be­yond nat­u­ral lan- guage and giv­ing it the abil­ity to ‘see,’” IBM said in a state­ment.

“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.”

IBM plans to an­a­lyze cross-ref­er­ence med­i­cal im­ages against a deep trove of lab re­sults, elec­tronic health records, ge­nomic tests, clin­i­cal stud­ies and other health data — which the com­pany es­ti­mates rep­re­sent 315 bil­lion data points and 90 mil­lion unique records.

With the new plat­form Wat­son will be able to view med­i­cal im­ages of a per­son at dif­fer­ent times to de­tect changes or ab­nor­mal­i­ties.

“As Wat­son evolves, we are tack­ling more com­plex and mean­ing­ful prob­lems by con­stantly eval­u­at­ing big­ger and more chal­leng­ing data sets,” IBM vice pres­i­dent John Kelly said.

“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.”

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