IBM to buy Healthlink

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IBM announced this week its plan to acquire Healthlink Inc. in a move that will boost IBM's offerings in healthcare consulting and services.
The acquisition comes at a time of considerable change for both healthcare organizations and service providers.
Neil E. de Crescenzo, healthcare industry leader, global and Americas for IBM Business Consulting Services, described that healthcare institutions are now "looking at a lot more central direction and a lot more investment in technologies across their entire institution and extensive hospital base. Historically this was done on a hospital-to-hospital basis, or it was done on a department-to-department basis."

Likewise, there is a lot of consolidation with the solution vendors. The institutions are looking for larger and more stable vendors due to the seriousness of their commitment financially and also managerially, de Crescenzo said.

He said that the 625 Healthlink employees will join IBM upon completion of the acquisition and will exist under the name Healthlink an IBM Company for a period of time and make up the heart of IBM's Business Consulting Service. These employees range in expertise in areas such as clinical and financial system implementation, patient data management, clinical process optimization, financial system implementation, and compliance, according to IBM.

"What this does is give IBM even more value because of the clinical process including imaging and radiology elements that HealthLink brings to the table, as well as the detailed knowledge they have of the software vendors," de Crescenzo said. He continued, "part of the reason we bought the company [Healthlink] is because of the intellectual capital they have around very specific process maps around the major processes in hospitals and how those can be optimized with specific software vendor products."

IBM Business Consulting Services has been interested in working with clients to provide more of an end-to-end service, something they have been discussing strategically for some time. The missing piece has been specific expertise such as what the Healthlink team can provide. As for the HealthLink team, this also gives them a set of capabilities they really didn't have as a private company, de Crescenzo said.

Current Healthlink customers will continue to be serviced and will also benefit from IBM's technology portfolio, research capabilities and services scale, IBM said.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.