IBM on Thursday said it will acquire Truven Health Analytics in a deal valued at $2.6 billion.
The purchase further builds out the IBM Watson Health unit. Truven tracks cost, claims and quality data in health care. In addition, Truven has methodologies and algorithms to track healthcare costs and quality.
IBM's plan is to integrate Truven's data into its Watson Health Cloud to deliver what Big Blue calls "insights as a service." As noted in a ZDNet profile of Watson Health, IBM is aiming to acquire enough data and technology to track health "from single-individual level to population level."
More importantly, Truven brings a bevy of customers to the Watson Health roster. Truven provides cloud-based healthcare data to 8,500 customers ranging from hospitals to insurers to life sciences companies. Truven has 25 of the top 25 pharmaceutical companies as customers.
Truven's flagship product is called Advantage Suite, which targets employer, government and health plan customers. Another product called ActionOI is focused on operational performance at providers.
IBM bought Phytel, Explorys and Merge Healthcare before Truven.
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Truven's products are arranged by a customer's role in the health care industry. Truven also has consulting and research to go along with its insights services.
Anil Jain, vice president at Watson Health and former Chief Medical Officer for Explorys, said the Truven acquisition was about data as well as people. "Truven is a well-respected brand on the employer and payer side and it has the data scientists as well as the human experts. The data is the raw material," said Jain. "There were a series of things."
Here's a look at the type of data Truven brings to Watson Health.
Going forward, Jain said Truven's employee base will help form the data engine for Watson Health as well as help clients adapt to the changing marketplace.
When will Watson Health integrate these acquisitions and reach its final form? Jain said the work may never be done. "I don't think there will be a final form because healthcare is changing too much," he said. "As a result we're open to bring in partners and acquire."