Healthcare Analytics, Population Health Management, Healthcare Big Data

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Blockchain, AI, NLP Target of Late-Year Healthcare Acquisitions

Blockchain, artificial intelligence, and natural language processing are driving two big healthcare companies to expand their business portfolios.

Blockchain and healthcare artificial intelligence

Source: Thinkstock

By Jennifer Bresnick

- The impending holiday season is no reason for healthcare companies to slow down their strategic plans, according to 3M, M*Modal, Change Healthcare, and PokitDok.

All four companies are shifting position – buying or being bought – in the final days of 2018 as a challenging, data-driven future unfolds in front of them.

Change Healthcare will be bulking up on blockchain with the acquisition of intellectual property from PokitDok, while 3M has agreed to purchase the technology business of M*Modal in a bid to grow its artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and health information systems business.

Change Healthcare was the first major health IT vendor to incorporate blockchain into its everyday service offerings by adding the distributed ledger technology to its administrative claims processing infrastructure in 2017.

The Change Healthcare Intelligent Healthcare Network serves government, payer, and pharmacy clients, as well the majority of provider organizations in the United States, with 5500 hospitals and 900,000 physicians conducting transactions through the service.

Blockchain development has become a priority for the company, and executives believe the acquisition of PokitDok’s blockchain tools and API options will only enhance its progress.

“This acquisition is about practical innovation to create a more connected, transparent and efficient healthcare system where patients control their own information,” said Kris Joshi, PhD, executive vice president and president, Network Solutions, Change Healthcare.

“As the leader in blockchain for healthcare and with one of the most extensive open API marketplaces available, with PokitDok we are bringing together synergistic assets and technical expertise for delivering additional capabilities to our customers and accelerated value to digital health markets.”

Meanwhile, 3M is angling to expand its population health and clinical documentation portfolio by incorporating AI and natural language processing technologies from M*Modal.

The $1 billion acquisition will not include some of M*Modal’s transcription, scribing and coding services business, although 3M will maintain a strategic business relationship with that segment of the company.

“This acquisition builds on our strategic commitment to invest in our Health Information Systems business and expands the capabilities of our revenue cycle management and population health priority growth platform,” said Mike Vale, executive vice president, 3M Health Care Business Group.

“Together, we will enable doctors to improve the patient experience, while enhancing documentation accuracy and operational efficiency for both providers and payers.”

Annual revenue from the technology business is estimated at approximately $200 million, according to a press release.  The revenue will supplement 3M’s health information systems business, which currently works with more than 8000 healthcare organizations worldwide.

“We are excited that we can further accelerate our mission of creating time to care for more clients with the resources and global reach of 3M,” said Michael Finke, president of M*Modal.

“By combining capabilities, we can more quickly deliver on our mission of bringing conversational AI and ambient intelligence directly into clinical workflows. This is a great outcome for our clients, partners and team.”

The two deals will position the participants well for 2019, a year in which nimbleness, innovation, and scale are likely to remain key factors for success

These acquisitions may end up proving that finding the right business partners is a smart way to defend against the looming threats of tech giants and the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence, blockchain, and other cutting-edge strategies.


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