AthenaHealth buys Epocrates for $293M

By Brian Dolan
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Athenahealth iPhone appAthenaHealth, a provider of cloud-based EHR and practice management software, announced a definitive agreement to acquire Epocrates, a popular mobile medical app provider, for about $293 million in cash. Epocrates agreed to the offer, which was specifically $11.75 per share, a 22 percent premium over Epocrates closing price last Friday. Piper Jaffray & Co. and Cooley advised Epocrates on the deal, while Goodwin Procter served as Athena's legal counsel.

Last May, following remarks made by AthenaHealth CEO Jonathan Bush, MobiHealthNews speculated as to whether the company might be considering an acquisition of Epocrates. (See: Why AthenaHealth might buy Epocrates.) At the time Bush noted how popular Epocrates was among hundreds of thousands of physicians who use the app to look up drug information on their mobiles before writing prescriptions. He also said that while his company may not be interested in Epocrates product itself, they "sure would like to be in front of 200,000 doctors".

Bush said as much to Bloomberg this week when discussing the acquisition: “Our biggest obstacle is that 70 percent of doctors don’t even know we exist. Epocrates is to healthcare IT what Angry Birds is to games.”

In a statement, Bush said: “No other company has been able to replicate the brand awareness, familiarity, and trust that Epocrates has across the clinical mobile user base. 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. Together, we’re excited by the opportunity to redefine the mobile toolset for care givers.”

The deal will lead to a combined company that can leverage Epocrates' mobile expertise and Athena's cloud-based network to develop "new mobile applications that deliver high-value information to the clinical community when, where, and how they want it," according to the companies. Moving forward Athena will work with the Epocrates team to develop "new mobile workflows" that initially might include ones that focus on care coordination, provider-to-provider communication, and patient engagement tools. Some of which may fall into the future plans Epocrates CEO Andrew Hurd laid out for MobiHealthNews in a recent interview.

Given how slowly Athena has been to embrace mobile in the past -- its first mobile apps were only just announced at last year's HIMSS event -- the Epocrates acquisition helps the company play catch-up in a major way.