IBM is now taking the power of Watson, a computer that processes natural language and gets smarter over time, to try to fix health care. That first means helping people live healthier and longer, but it also means creating a more efficient system.
In the U.S., health care accounts for about 17 percent of gross domestic product. The $3 trillion spent annually represents 40 percent of health costs globally, according to a Carlyle Group report.
"Watson, or a tool like Watson, will be a part of every major health-care decision," said Dr. Kyu Rhee, IBM's chief health officer. "We call it augmented intelligence — the ability to help the different stakeholders be at the top of their game."
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By stakeholders, Rhee is referring to doctors making smart, personalized diagnoses, employers having a better understanding of the medical needs of their workers and insurers more accurately pricing policies and analyzing risk.
Prior to Truven, the Watson Health unit acquired Phytel for population health, Explorys for cloud-based health intelligence and Merge Healthcare for medical imaging.
Overall, Truven marks IBM's biggest deal since the $4.9 billion purchase of business software maker Cognos in January 2008, according to FactSet.