Oracle's Phase Forward Acquisition Expands Health Care Portfolio

By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2010-04-16 Print this article Print

Oracle announced the acquisition of Phase Forward, which offers a SAAS Integrated Clinical Research Suite for managing clinical development and medical safety processes, in a cash merger worth about $685 million. Oracle has been expanding its health care IT portfolio through a variety of new applications and acquisitions over the past few months, including the March release of Oracle Healthcare Transaction Base 6.1, a multiple-use data repository, along with a health care analytics package that includes Oracle Healthcare Data Warehouse Foundation and Oracle Operating Room Analytics.

Oracle announced April 16 the acquisition of Phase Forward, which builds health care IT and life-science applications, in a cash merger worth about $685 million. The deal adds to Oracle's health care IT portfolio at a time when the company is seeking to position itself as an end-to-end systems provider in a number of market segments, including health care.

Phase Forward has developed an SAAS (software-as-a-service) platform, termed the Integrated Clinical Research Suite, which allows health care workers to manage clinical development and medical safety processes. The company's software has been deployed in clinical trials in addition to being used in drug development and patient care delivery. 

The company's assets will be integrated into the Oracle Health Sciences Global Business Unit; the deal itself is expected to close in mid-2010, according to Oracle.

"The life sciences and health care industries are converging as they seek to control costs while accelerating patient-centered innovation," Neil de Crescenzo, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Health Sciences, wrote in an April 16 statement. "Phase Forward brings outstanding products and employees with significant expertise to Oracle that will help enable the delivery of personalized medicine and value-based health care."

The Phase Forward acquisition follows Oracle's March announcement of two health care applications designed for the storage and mining of data: Oracle Healthcare Transaction Base 6.1, a multiple-use data repository for administrative, clinical, and financial health care information; and a health care analytics package that includes Oracle Healthcare Data Warehouse Foundation and Oracle Operating Room Analytics. The latter allows warehoused clinical data, including electronic medical records and patient accounting, to be leveraged via baked-in business intelligence solutions.

"Health care providers have long struggled with effectively measuring clinical quality, operational efficiency and financial performance in a timely and actionable manner," Crescenzo, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Health Services, wrote in a March 1 statement. "Oracle's enterprise health care analytics is designed specifically for health care providers to help them unlock the value of electronic health information to enable quality performance and clinical excellent, to drive departmental and operational efficiencies, and accelerate innovation to the point of care."

This cycle of medical-related releases and acquisitions suggests that Oracle is attempting to apply to the health care space its larger strategy of providing integrated end-to-end software platforms. The company's $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems could contribute toward this goal by allowing Java and Solaris to be more fully integrated into its existing product lineup.

Oracle faces competition in the health care arena from a number of other large IT companies, including Microsoft, which announced a February deal with Eclipsys to integrate the latter's Sunrise Enterprise suite into Microsoft's Amalga Unified Intelligence System, in theory creating a more robust data-storage and analytics platform. Microsoft has been pushing Amalga as a solution for health-care workers who need a single point of access to information from across a health care organization's system.

Microsoft has also been expanding its HealthVault technology, a cloud-based depository for patients' medical information originally unveiled in October 2009.

Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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