IBM to Buy Initiate Systems

IBM has announced the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire Initiate Systems, a maker of data integrity software for information sharing among health care and government organizations.

IBM has announced the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire Initiate Systems, a maker of data integrity software for information sharing among health care and government organizations.

Chicago-based Initiate marks IBM's 30th acquisition aimed at beefing up Big Blue's information management and analytics capabilities. Since 2005, IBM has invested $10 billion in 14 other strategic acquisitions to build its business analytics portfolio. IBM did not disclose the financial aspects of the acquisition.

In a press release about the acquisition, IBM said Initiate's software helps health-care clients work more intelligently and efficiently with timely access to patient and clinical data. It also enables governments to share information across multiple agencies to better serve citizens.

Health-care organizations and governments around the world today are embarking on new initiatives to improve health care and citizen safety. In health care, this means finding ways to simultaneously improve health outcomes and efficiency of care. In government, this means providing better services to citizens in a more cost-effective manner by combining information from multiple agencies such as child welfare and veterans' programs.

In a news conference regarding the Initiate acquisition. Arvind Krishna, general manager of IBM's Information Management business, said the acquisition of Initiate marks a "significant expansion" of IBM's ability to manage information from many sources.

"In health care the focus is on improving patient care through information sharing," Krishna said. "In government the focus is on providing citizens with services in a more timely and efficient manner."

Krishna said Initiate's software has analyzed billions of individual records for hundreds of clients across numerous industries including health care and government. For example, its software is used by CVS/Caremark, Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare Services and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Indeed, Initiate's software is currently in use at more than 2,400 health-care sites, more than 40 health information exchanges and multiple government health systems around the world. It also serves government agencies large and small around the world.

Moreover, with more than $36 billion in government stimulus funds available to spur adoption of electronic health records and regional health information networks, this issue is top of mind for healthcare providers in both the public and private sectors, Krishna said. Similarly, government agencies of all sizes are planning initiatives aimed at improving the services they deliver to citizens while holding the line on costs.

During the news conference, Bill Conroy, president and CEO of Initiate, said, "What's occurring in the U.S. about electronic health records is occurring globally. We reached an inflection point where to keep up with demand we had to do something with scale." And to get that scale very quickly, Initiate agreed to be acquired by IBM, he said.

Krishna said health care and life sciences are a $4 billion business for IBM, which has worked on more than 3,000 health-care transformation initiatives ranging from small hospitals to national health-care projects. In addition, the company has more than 4,000 employees dedicated to health care, including more than 60 medical doctors, 350 other health care professionals and a network of more than 1,800 business partners, he said. IBM has teams of life sciences researchers at eight research labs and has received more than 600 patents in life sciences, health care and medical devices. These researchers, doctors and experienced professionals work with leading enterprises and government agencies from across the health-care industry.

Meanwhile, an example of Initiate's use in the health-care industry is Sutter Health. Sutter Health, a not-for-profit network of doctors and hospitals serving more than 100 communities in Northern California, is using Initiate's technology to link its entire health network with accuracy and flexibility to enhance patient safety, customer satisfaction and the efficiency of business operations.

In government, the North Dakota Department of Human Services (DHS) is an Initiate software user. North Dakota's DHS information on citizens used to be dispersed across numerous data silos. However, with Initiate onboard, DHS is now using technology to access a single view of all its clients, allowing the agency to share information across its many programs to increase citizen enrollment, speed the process of determining eligibility and more accurately measure program effectiveness.

"Our clients will be the ones who benefit most from this acquisition," Conroy said in a statement. "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."