9 big healthcare IT deals to watch

They run the gamut from IBM Watson's $1B buy, to a DoD contract and more surprising alliances
By Bernie Monegain
07:32 AM

Several big-bucks deals and partnerships struck us recently -- not just because of their price tags, but also because they could prove to be game changers for health IT, now and far into the future. Here are nine worth watching for their effect on the industry:

Cerner takes coveted DoD contract
The U.S. Department of Defense handed down the largest and most-anticipated electronic health record system contract in history on July 29.

Cerner, Leidos and Accenture landed the big fish, whose initial piece, valued at $9 billion, calls for the team to provide "an electronic health record off-the-shelf solution, integration activities and deployment across the Military Health System," a DoD spokesperson told Healthcare IT News.

Learn on-demand, earn credit, find products and solutions. Get Started >>

DoD's choice, in the end, came down to three teams: Epic Systems and IBM; Cerner, Leidos and Accenture; and Allscripts aligned with Computer Sciences Corp. and Hewlett-Packard.

[Read the full story: DoD awards Cerner, Leidos, Accenture EHR contract.]

IBM to see clearly now with $1B Merge buy
Continuing its shopping spree, IBM on Aug. 6 announced that it will spend a cool $1 billion to acquire Merge Healthcare in a deal that will combine Merge's medical imaging technologies with IBM's Watson.Watson will gain the ability to "see" by bringing together Watson's advanced image analytics and cognitive capabilities with data and images obtained from Merge Healthcare's medical imaging management platform, IBM executives said in announcing the deal.
The intent, say IBM executives is to to unlock the value of medical images to help physicians make better patient care decisions.

[Read the full story: IBM Watson antes up $1B to buy Merge.]

CVS-Watson team takes on chronic disease
CVS Health, with 7,800 pharmacies and more than 1,000 walk-in medical clinics across the country, and Watson, IBM's cognitive computing platform, are joining forces to take on chronic diseases. The plan? Eradicate conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and obesity before they even take hold.

The partnership joins Watson's cognitive computing capability with CVS' vast trove of healthcare data that includes medical health records, pharmacy and medical claims information. Of course, CVS customers and their care providers are part of the equation.

The chronic diseases that the CVS-IBM partnership is tackling are the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. and represent 86 percent of the nation's $2.9 trillion in annual health spending.

[Read the full story: CVS, Watson confront chronic disease.]

NantHealth partners with Allscripts against cancer
NantHealth and Allscripts, two health IT companies intent on interoperability, will collaborate on the development and delivery of precision medicine at the point of care, they announced on March 2.

NantHealth was founded by medical researcher, professor, surgeon and self-made billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong to work on the interoperability crisis that plagues healthcare today. Allscripts, a health IT company that nearly collapsed in boardroom turmoil a few years ago, has been led into stability by CEO Paul Black, a former Cerner executive.

The two companies together will introduce what they call an integrated, evidence-based, personalized approach to healthcare

[Read full story: NantHealth, Allscripts take on cancer.]

Health Catalyst brings HCD into the fold
Health Catalyst has acquired Health Care DataWorks, a company with roots in Ohio State University, and one that works on improving patient outcomes much like Health Catalyst does.

The deal means that HCD, with all of its 28 employees become part of Health Catalyst. They will work from their base in Columbus, Ohio. HCD customers, including – Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, El Camino Hospital, MemorialCare Health System, Orlando Health, and Tampa General Hospital – are now Health

Catalyst customers and two are also investors.
The addition of 28 team members takes Health Catalyst to about 400 total employees. There were three when the company launched in 2008.

[Read the full story: Health Catalyst acquires rival HCD.]

Emdeon buys Altegra for $910M
Revenue cycle management vendor Emdeon announced in July it would acquire Altegra Health, which develops analytics tools for payers and risk-bearing providers, for $910 million in cash.

By combining Altegra Health's risk adjustment and quality analytics with its own RCM and payment tools, Emdeon will be well-positioned to support healthcare organizations navigate a new world of exchange-based insurance and value-based care.  
Emdeon's Intelligent Healthcare Network currently reaches 700,000 physicians, 5,000 hospitals, 1,200 payers and processed some 8.1 billion transactions in 2014.

Read the full story: Emdeon to acquire Altegra Health.]

Premier adds CECity to boost performance management
Healthcare improvement alliance Premier will spend $400 million to acquire CECity, a privately-held, SaaS-based healthcare solutions company. Much like Premier, CECity focuses on performance management and improvement, pay-for-value reporting and professional education.

Both organizations have as their stated goal to help hospitals and other healthcare entities deliver higher-quality, more cost-effective care.

[Read the full story: Premier buys performance analytics specialist for $400 million.]

Aetna pays $37B for Humana
Health insurance giant Aetna will acquire rival insurer Humana in a $37 billion deal announced July 3. The transaction equals about $230 per Humana share.

As Aetna executives describe it, the deal brings together Humana's growing Medicare Advantage business with Aetna's diversified portfolio and commercial capabilities to create a company serving the most seniors in the Medicare Advantage program and the second-largest managed care company in the country.

[Read the full story: Aetna to buy Humana in $37B deal.]

Anthem spends $54B on Cigna
Amid massive market consolidation, Anthem on July 24 revealed its intention to acquire Cigna for $54.2 billion.

The deal comes in the same month that Aetna moved to buy Humana for $37 billion.

Together, the mergers reduce the former "Big Five" private health insurers to just three. Indeed, if both deals are approved, Anthem, Aetna and UnitedHealthcare would stand as the largest insurers in the United States.

[Read the full story: Update: Anthem to acquire Cigna for $54 billion.]