Free EMR Newsletter Want to receive the latest news on EMR, Meaningful Use, ARRA and Healthcare IT sent straight to your email? Join thousands of healthcare pros who subscribe to EMR and EHR for FREE!

EMR Vendors Buying Physician Market Share

Here at EMRandEHR.com, as well as in blogs across the web, we’ve been predicting that this will be the time when the EMR vendor market will begin to consolidate.  I stand by that prediction. But I have to admit that the first couple of deals I’ve tracked have turned out differently than I had expected.

Consider the acquisition of Amazing Charts by Pri-Med, a provider of professional medical education to more than 260,000 clinicians. I would have assumed that Amazing Charts would be acquired by a larger EMR vendor to fill out its offering physicians, but instead, Amazing sold to a publishing company with a huge physician base.  In retrospect, it makes plenty of sense, but for some reason I didn’t see it coming.

EMR vendor athenahealth pursued a similar strategy recently when it signed a definitive agreement to buy Epocrates, perhaps the most popular mobile application used by physicians today. athenahealth agreed to pay almost $300 million in cash for Epocrates, 22 percent more than what the mobile app vendor’s’ stock was worth on the day in question, in a move that the EMR company concedes tapped out its credit line.

But costly though the deal might have been, athena is getting a lot for its money. Buying Epocrates adds another one million physicians to its comparatively small provider base of 38,000.  If you consider the app itself plus the physician users, athenahealth’s investment seems pretty reasonable. When you consider how costly it is to acquire physicians as customers, a deal valuing them at $300 a physician doesn’t sound astronomical to me.

What I’m getting at, bottom line, is that other EMR players are likely to follow the model established by the Amazing Charts and athenahealth deals. I think this approach — buying, rather than begging for, new physician relationships — makes a great deal of sense.  What about you?

January 9, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @annezieger on Twitter.

Early Signs Of EMR Consolidation Appearing

Some of you are going to tell me that I’ve jumped the gun, but I’ve got my feeling about this and I’m sticking to it. Though nothing massive has happened yet, I believe we’re officially beginning to see consolidation in the EMR world.

I was struck with this idea today when I came upon the news that physician EMR company Imagine MD was closing. According to MedCityNews.com, the cloud-based EMR company had pulled in $25 million in venture money, $10 million of that in the last 12 months. And until recently, it looked as though it had staying power; Imagine MD had been in business since 2006, well ahead of the pack of competitors pitching small medical practices.

Another sign that we’re seeing consolidation comes in the form of the acquisition of Amazing Charts by Pri-Med, a provider of professional medical education to more than 260,000 clinicians. (I wouldn’t have expected a medical education company to be the one to acquire Amazing, but that’s a story for another time.)

While I admit two examples isn’t exactly a statistical bump, it’s a clear enough sign for me that the market has begun to pull together. After all, with EMR adoption on the rise among medical practices, there’s only so many customers left to compete for, and that can only mean more closings and M&A.

The really important question, if you’re a doctor hoping to avoid a big practice disruption, is whether you can predict which direction your present or future EMR vendor is going.  That is, of course, a pretty tricky game.

But if you’d like some food for thought, you might consider checking out a previous post by John, comparing “fast EMR companies” fueled by venture capital to slower-moving types that grow organically and don’t tend to accept venture capital investments.

While there are exceptions — notably Practice Fusion, which seems to have an extremely solid business — the tech business is rife with examples of fast companies that soared high on venture capital drafts then plummeted to earth.  I’m not suggesting that you should avoid VC-backed EMR firms, physicians, but I am suggesting that you find out as much as you can about the size of their customer base, finances and strategy before you commit your business into their hands.

Otherwise, you could end up like ImagineMD’s EMR-less customers. And if that’s not a bummer I don’t know what is.

November 23, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @annezieger on Twitter.