It is IBM’s third health-related acquisition this year.
The data and images obtained from Merge Healthcare’s medical imaging management platform will be integrated with Watson’s cloud-based healthcare computing system.
The transaction, which is subject to regulatory review, is expected to be completed later this year. It is the third health-related acquisition since IBM launched its Watson Health unit in April.
With the latest acquisition, IBM will get access to over 7,500 healthcare sites in the US.
The Watson Health unit intends to bring together Merge’s products and solutions with existing expertise in cognitive computing, population health, and cloud-based healthcare intelligence offerings.
It will provide researchers insights in clinical trial design, monitoring and evaluation. Clinicians will get support in identifying options for the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring a range of health conditions.
IBM Research and Solutions Portfolio senior vice president John Kelly said: "Healthcare will be one of IBM’s biggest growth areas over the next 10 years, which is why we are making a major investment to drive industry transformation and to facilitate a higher quality of care.
"Watson’s powerful cognitive and analytic capabilities, coupled with those from Merge and our other major strategic acquisitions, position IBM to partner with healthcare providers, research institutions, biomedical companies, insurers and other organisations committed to changing the very nature of health and healthcare in the 21st century."
Merge Healthcare CEO Justin Dearborn said: "Becoming a part of IBM will allow us to expand our global scale and deliver added value and insight to our clients through Watson’s advanced analytic and cognitive computing capabilities."
IBM aims to use the Watson Health Cloud to analyse and cross-reference medical images for a range of lab results, electronic health records, genomic tests, clinical studies and other health-associated information sources.