Cloud EHR Provider Athenahealth Acquires Epocrates

Athenahealth, a cloud EHR provider, has announced it will buy Epocrates, a developer of clinical mobile reference apps.

Cloud-based health IT software company Athenahealth has acquired Epocrates, a developer of mobile reference apps doctors use at the point of care.

Athenahealth announced Jan. 7 that it had agreed to pay $11.75 per share, or approximately $293 million, to acquire Epocrates. Athenahealth expects the sale to close in the second quarter of 2013.

Epocrates will continue to offer its clinical reference apps and will likely remain a separate business, Jonathan Bush, CEO of Athenahealth, told eWEEK in an email.

"We are confident that we can provide Epocrates with the stewardship and resources it needs to grow and develop within health care, and that Epocrates' capabilities are going to mesh exceptionally well with Athenahealth's cloud-based physician and patient services," Bush said in a statement.

The brand awareness of Epocrates' mobile clinical tools appealed to Bush, the CEO said. "For years, Athenahealth has been seeking a 'lite' entry point that will allow physicians to learn about our services and sample our capabilities," said Bush. "Ideally such an 'Athena-lite' exposure would include a meaningful slice of our core service set."

Athenahealth's provider base is 38,000, while the number of health professionals using Epocrates' network of reference tools reaches more than 1 million, according to Athenahealth.

As part of Athenahealth, Epocrates will expand its mobile apps beyond drug reference to include resources on diagnostic lab imaging, procedures and physician consultation, Bush told eWEEK in an email. Epocrates' tools will also be available in Athenahealth's cloud EHR platform, called AthenaClinicals.

"We also plan to introduce new point-of-care, mobile workflows to the health care market," said Bush. "Initial efforts will focus on bringing care-coordination capabilities to both platforms."

Epocrates also brings its expertise in delivering content on mobile devices to Athenahealth, Bush noted.

"On the flip side, [Athenahealth] will be able to leverage real-time intelligence from our cloud-based network of more than 38,000 providers to develop additional tools and services that build upon what Epocrates has delivered to date," said Bush.

In addition, the clinical research that Epocrates sells to drug companies will now draw on information from Athenahealth's 40 million de-identified health records, said Bush.

Athenahealth will use Epocrates' experience in mobile service delivery to develop new mobile clinical apps. The two companies together will be able to develop new mobile workflows to boost doctors' efficiency and improve patient outcomes, Athenahealth reported.

On Dec. 6 Epocrates launched its app for the iPad and iPad Mini that allows doctors to use the Apple tablets to swipe through info on medications, diseases and lab work.

KLAS Research, a "Consumer Reports" of health care IT, has recognized Athenahealth for excellence in cloud-based EHR apps. (KLAS stands for the first names of its founders, Kent Gale, Leonard Black, Adam Gale and Scott Holbrook.)

"Epocrates and Athenahealth are two strong and progressive brands dedicated to helping clinicians deliver high-quality care more efficiently through continued innovation and a keen understanding of physicians' workflows," Andrew Hurd, president, CEO, and interim chief financial officer of Epocrates, said in a statement.

"By combining the companies' unique expertise in mobile and cloud-based services, we are setting out to dramatically improve the accessibility of information and redefine the dynamics within health care."