IBM Continues Expansion into Health IT

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , February 3, 2010

IBM has signed a definitive agreement to acquire privately held Initiate Systems, a Chicago-based provider of information-sharing software for healthcare organizations and government. The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of March. Financial terms were not disclosed.

It's the 30th acquisition IBM has made in the information and analytics arena, as Big Blue positions itself for the release of about $20 billion in federal stimulus money for the comprehensive, nationwide adoption of electronic medical records.

"With the addition of Initiate's software and its industry expertise, IBM will offer clients a comprehensive solution for delivering the information they need to improve the well-being of patients at a lower cost," said Arvind Krishna, general manager, Information Management, IBM, in a joint media release. "Similarly, our government clients will now have even more capabilities for gathering and making use of information to serve citizens in a timely and efficient manner."

Initiate has clients at more than 2,400 healthcare sites, more than 40 health information exchanges, and multiple government health systems around the world. Its software allows clinicians to recognize patients at any facility within a health network with access to complete medical histories. Initiate’s technologies support healthcare regulations and standards including HL7 and HIPAA, according to the company.

"Our clients will be the ones who benefit most from this acquisition," said Bill Conroy, president/CEO, Initiate Systems, in the media release. "They will continue to get the software and expertise they depend on, plus the incalculable advantage they will gain through IBM's global reach and its capabilities in enterprise software, hardware, and services."

Initiate's healthcare clients include: Alberta (Canada) Ministry of Health and Wellness, BMI Healthcare (UK), Calgary (Canada) Health Region, CVS/Caremark, Humana, Ochsner (New Orleans) Health System, North Dakota’s Department of Health and Human Services, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Sutter Health, which serves more than 100 communities in Northern California, uses Initiate technology to link its entire health network. The North Dakota Department of Human Services uses Initiate to access a single view of all its clients so it can share information across its other programs to increase enrollment, speed eligibility screenings, and measure program effectiveness, according to the media release.

IBM says it will continue to support Initiate's technologies while helping clients access the broader IBM portfolio that includes clinical analytics, information discovery and transformation, and data warehousing and business intelligence.

IBM said its acquisition of Initiate extends its business analytics strategy through its new Business Analytics and Optimization Consulting organization, which includes 4,000 consultants, analytics solution centers, and investments of more than $10 billion in organic growth and acquisitions.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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