Epocrates Attracted Athenahealth Buyout by Getting Back to Basics in Mobile

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medical device makers. A manufacturer of cardiac stents, for example, might use DocAlert to offer the 12,000 cardiologists who use Epocrates a report comparing medicated and non-medicated stents.

Post-acquisition, of course, Epocrates would have an important new marketing client: Athenahealth. “For years, Athenahealth has been seeking a ‘lite’ entry point that will allow physicians to learn about our services and sample our capabilities,” CEO Bush said in a blog post about the proposed merger. Assuming the deal closes, Bush said, “we will immediately set to work” giving Epocrates users the option to sign up for athenaCoordinator and athenaClinicals, the company’s care coordination and EHR services.

At the same time, Bush said, Athenahealth could help Epocrates by deepening the research data it sells to drug companies, and adding new consulting and diagnostic data to its existing drug reference tools.

Cosinuke, the Athenahealth marketing officer, offered a specific example . “On Epocrates there is a CPT lookup capability,” he says, referring to the diagnostic codes physicians use to apply for insurance reimbursement for a given patient encounter. “At Athenahelath we’ve got CPT data by specialty and by zip code available. So a pediatrician using Epocrates in Phoenix, Arizona, could see what other pediatricians in Phoenix are being paid for the same procedure code.” This new information might appear on an Epocrates page sponsored by Athenahealth, thus completing the awareness-raising loop.

Bush said it will take at least 90 days for the deal to close and that “there are lots of kinks to iron.” And even before the acquisition news, Hurd acknowledged that the new apps and features he envisions would take a while to roll out.

“I’m not going to tell you this is a 30-day plan,” he said. “But that is why I am here. We are really well positioned, with thousands of clinicians accessing our application to make important decisions at the point of care. That is a fun thing, to wake up every morning and know you are making that kind of impact.”

Here’s an official Athenahealth video about the proposed merger.

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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