Athenahealth Goes Mobile, Acquires Epocrates for $293M

1/7/13Follow @gthuang

Who says we can’t build big, independent tech companies in Boston? Consider Athenahealth (NASDAQ: ATHN), the Watertown, MA-based health IT firm that is becoming a larger anchor for talent and technology, thanks to today’s announcement that it is acquiring San Mateo, CA-based Epocrates (NASDAQ: EPOC), a mobile medical-app company.

The deal is worth about $293 million in cash. That represents a 22 percent premium over the closing price of Epocrates stock on Friday. The deal should close in the second quarter of 2013, pending all the usual regulatory requirements.

Athenahealth was founded in 1997 by CEO and chairman Jonathan Bush and Todd Park, the current chief technology officer of the United States. The company provides Web-based software and services for medical billing, electronic health records, and care coordination. In recent years, it has been trying to raise its profile among doctors (its primary customer base). Athenahealth has been growing both organically and through acquisitions of companies such as Proxsys in 2011.

The goal of the Epocrates deal, as I see it, is to make a strong push in the mobile-health business among the clinical community. Epocrates also gives Athenahealth greater reach among doctors, as its app for clinical content and tools is used by something like 330,000 physicians. We’ll see how the integration goes—it’s always a tricky process, especially among well-established companies—but this move looks to be pretty ambitious and aggressive in the grand scheme of health IT.

“I have been an admirer of Epocrates since it first emerged and have watched the company grow consistently, one app download at a time, as it has cemented itself into the consciousness of America’s physicians,” says Bush, the Athenahealth CEO, in a statement. “Together, we’re excited by the opportunity to redefine the mobile toolset for care givers.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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