IBM this week completed its $1 billion acquisition of medical imaging software vendor Merge Healthcare with business goals directly tied to Big Blue’s Watson supercomputer. Merge, whose technology is used at more than 7,500 U.S. healthcare sites, will become part of IBM's new Watson Health business unit.

According to IBM, Merge’s current customer base includes some of the world’s leading clinical research institutes and pharmaceutical firms who manage a growing body of medical images. Big Blue hopes these organizations will analyze and cross-reference their vast repositories of medical images against the 315 billion data points stored in the Watson Health Cloud.

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