Allscripts joins sales of the century

The big news in health IT this week was the proposed sale of EMR vendor Allscripts’ hospital assets to Harris Computer, a subsidiary of Canadian software company Constellation Software. Harris has been buying up a few interesting companies recently, including Sydney-based obstetric and maternity software developer Meridian Health Informatics.

Meridian’s software is used by NSW Health, Queensland Health and Tasmania’s Department of Health, and Harris also added in the UK’s K2 Medical Systems to the mix last year, with a view perhaps to hoovering up the hospital-based maternity market. But Allscripts is a much bigger kettle of fish, with EMRs implemented around the world and a healthy enough listing on the NASDAQ index.

While it is the EMR implementations that get the eyeballs – Allscripts has a small but important market share in EMRs in the English-speaking world, dwarfed by Cerner and Epic of course – we think Harris may be eyeing off the private physician market as its best option for growth as well as hospitals looking for a cheaper option than the big two.

The sale of Allscripts’ hospital suite also includes what is now called Opal, a digital medical record better known as BOSSnet that was first developed by Adelaide doctors Marc Belej and Rohan Ward two decades ago that is predominantly used in WA and Victoria. BOSSnet has had a bit of a storied career in its implementations, most notably at Fiona Stanley Hospital, but it is nothing on the terrible headlines that Allscripts received with its roll-out of the Sunrise suite in South Australia, when it was then called EPAS.

Not even Cerner’s horror run in its first go at NSW in 2010, Victoria with HealthSmart or Queensland for most of the twenty-teens compares to the struggles Allscripts had in SA. “Still a pig with lipstick” and “clicky, clunky and cumbersome” are two phrases we never thought we’d write in a health IT publication, but there they are, on the record.

After much angst, a few reviews and a cash injection to upgrade the system to the most contemporary version, the Sunrise roll-out has gone much more smoothly in the last few years. We’ll watch with interest its progress under the new owners, as we will with the future of Opal as WA Health weighs up its options for a statewide EMR. We still consider Opal as a DMR rather than a fully integrated EMR so it may struggle against the market leaders when it does come to a tender, but its affordability may hold it in good stead.

While Allscripts has been a major player in the US in particular for the last two decades, the $US700 million price tag that Harris is offering tells us a lot about its market share. By comparison, Cerner sold to Oracle at Christmas for $US38 billion. We always put Allscripts on a similar level to Meditech and InterSystems in terms of value but we are re-evaluating our views now.

And in late breaking news, Italian health IT powerhouse Dedalus has announced it will stop offering its Lorenzo EMR to the UK’s National Health Service. Instead, Dedalus is offering to upgrade existing and future customers to Orbis, which it inherited when it bought Agfa a few years ago. Many of Dedalus’ healthcare assets were previously part of Australian-based IBA Health before moving on to iSoft, CSC and DXC, and were then carved off by Dedalus last year.

It’s interesting times in the global EMR market, but also in clinical software for large specialist medical practices. We’ve had a few interesting inquiries about market share in this field in Australia following the sale of Genie Solutions to Citadel Health. Problems with the larger software vendors in both the GP and specialist markets in getting their systems compliant with Medicare’s new web services regime by the March 13 deadline are causing all sorts of problems that are likely to come to a head in the next week or so. Brace yourselves.

That brings us to our poll question this week:

Is the global EMR market overvalued?

Vote here or leave your comments below.

Last week, we asked: Did the Australian Department of Health drop the ball in 2020 by not planning for a national vaccine management system? Oh yeah, readers said. 95 per cent said yes, while just five per cent said no.

We also asked your thoughts on what DoH should have done instead. Here’s what you said.


+1 # Kate McDonald 2022-03-11 12:10
Is the global EMR market overvalued? The vast majority said yes – 91 per cent to nine per cent. We also asked if there were good alternatives to commercial off the shelf EMRs. This is what you said (minus comments plugging certain vendors):

- There are plenty of good options outside of the Epic’s and Cerner’s of the world.

- None of these EMRs actually deliver on their claims and most health services have people dependent workarounds to make any use of them.

- no, not possible to self-develop a full function eMR

- Yes, particularly in the Aust Private Hospital sector ($19.1 billion) CoDesigned Digital Medical Record platforms that can be delivered modularly. Collaborative approach with partnering for private hospital groups is essential if we are to achieve Interoperabilit y that will enable consumers to access their information across facilities… Public to Private. The Private Hospital sector will stay on paper unless we offer them a sustainable solution that fully integrates across their business. They can’t /won’t pay for the heavy lifting eMR they don’t need it. We can do more in achieving interoperabilit y if we partner across our capabilities. It will make it easier for investors to find value when they come down from Canada looking for opportunities. Give me a minute while I climb down off my soapbox

- off the shelf EMRs don't deliver, going it alone won't work. The problem is all those exaggerated claims by people who don't understand the complexities of health data. Financial data is easy to deal with because it is easier to understand. Health data - nowhere near as easy. But that doesn't stop the geeks who just want to make money.

- Open notes

- Expensive, acute focussed, failed to live up to their sales hype, too complex and clinically time-consuming

- no

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