When IBM teamed with Siemens Healthineers to sell the Watson Care Manager population health management product, Big Blue got a powerful worldwide ally with a huge customer base to expand Watson’s market share.

How big is Siemens? In the United States alone, 200,000 patients are being scanned or having a lab test done every hour via its technology, says August Calhoun, head of services in the North American region.

That’s impressive, but IBM also got a partner that is new to population health management. To some degree, Siemens can be considered a rookie.

Siemens’ core business in the United States now, after Cerner bought much of its IT product line two years ago, is selling medical imaging systems and diagnostic laboratories. But it has thousands of clients just for those two systems.

Also See: Siemens jumps into population health with IBM

Siemens may be new to population health, but it has the competencies to sell, install and support imaging and diagnostic systems, and to pull medical information out of the systems to help physicians make better care decisions, says Arthur Kaindl, head of digital health services. And it has hundreds of clinicians on staff to train providers and help them conduct better analytics and interpret the results, which can lead to improved outcomes, he adds. Siemens, Calhoun notes, has been in the consulting business for 20 years and now is adding performance and efficiency improvement services.

The move by Siemens to better help clinicians started about 18 months ago. “We’re open for business and selling this today,” says Calhoun. “We’re identifying customers with IBM now and contacting current customers.” And there are plenty of job opening being posted by the company.

Under the agreement, IBM and Siemens also will jointly develop new population health management tools to support value-based care and bundled payments, among other needs. “There are analytical assets yet to be developed,” Calhoun says. “There is new data science to be created.”

Siemens has not yet finalized a sale, but has talked to select customers in recent months and expects to announce collaborations with providers relatively soon.

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