UnitedHealth Group acquisition of EMIS close after provisional clearance

UnitedHealth Group’s proposed £1.2 billion acquisition of UK-based healthcare software business EMIS is edging closer after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) provisionally cleared the purchase following an in-depth investigation.

EMIS supplies data management systems to the NHS, including the electronic patient record (EPR) system used by the majority of NHS GPs in the UK.

Optum, part of the US healthcare giant UnitedHealth, currently supplies software used by GPs when prescribing medicines, as well as data analytics and advisory services that the NHS uses to help improve overall healthcare and health service provision.

A CMA Phase 1 investigation had identified initial concerns that the merger ran the risk of worse outcomes for the NHS by reducing competition. These concerns were probed in more detail in a Phase 2 investigation overseen by an independent panel, which has now provisionally found the merger does not raise competition concerns.

Kirstin Baker, chair of the independent inquiry panel carrying out the investigation, said: “Digital technology and data analytics play an increasingly important role in supporting high quality healthcare in the NHS and so it’s important we investigate this deal thoroughly.

“We want to ensure the NHS continues to benefit from innovation and efficiencies brought about by technology services competing for its business.

“After carefully considering a broad range of evidence, we have provisionally found that this deal is not expected to harm competition or adversely affect patients.”

The CMA will now consult on its provisional findings and listen to any further views before reaching a final decision. Britain’s competition regulator is welcoming responses from interested parties to its provisional findings by Friday 1 September 2023.

These will be considered ahead of the CMA issuing its final report, which is due by 5 October 2023.

EMIS experienced repeated outages at the end of May that caused “significant disruption” to thousands of GP surgeries across the country.

These performance and reliability issues led to a ‘Battle Royale’ on Twitter between rivals TPP and EMIS. TPP, which has its own proprietary clinical system, SystmOne, began targeting EMIS in a bid for supremacy in the primary care market.

TPP began running Twitter adverts that offer practices a £10,000 referral fee, a further £10,000 to cover staffing costs up to the value of up to £10,000 per practice as part of the migration to SystmOne migration costs, and a £3,000 migration fee waived. A further £50 M&S voucher was offered to any GP who books a demo.

The campaign directly targeted EMIS practices that had suffered as a result of the outages.

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This post originally appeared on TechToday.