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7/26/2011
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Athenahealth Acquires Proxsys To Build Health Information Exchange

The acquisition will help hospitals and medical groups manage clinical and administrative information more efficiently in the cloud.

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Athenahealth announced last week that it will acquire Proxsys for approximately $28 million. The buyout not only boosts Athenahealth's cloud capabilities, but also adds an important component to its vision of building a health information exchange (HIE) that manages patient information and administrative data in the cloud.

The acquisition of Proxsys, a provider of cloud-based care-coordination services between physicians and hospitals, comes at a time when Athenahealth is accelerating the development of AthenaCoordinator, a cloud-based care coordination service that will manage and store information related to care planning, provider-patient communications, intra-office coordination, and organizing referrals to specialists.

The hope is that by developing a HIE that physicians and other clinical workers can access, using a secure online portal, to post information and retrieve data, they can cut out several manual steps that once required phone and fax communications.

"We need to start talking about a health information exchange as a verb rather than a noun," said John Hallock, a spokesman for Athenahealth. "Physicians at hospitals and medical practices can set up appointments with specialists, retrieve lab results, and perform other tasks using an online network that can help them realize cost savings and efficiencies rather than depending on phone and fax transmission to conduct their business," Hallock said.

Athenahealth, which provides cloud-based practice management, electronic health record (EHR), and patient communication services to medical groups, said it intends to fully integrate Proxsys and its service offerings onto AthenaNet, Athenahealth's centrally hosted, cloud-based service platform.

According to Jonathan Bush, CEO and president of Athenahealth, if all goes according to plan, the company will launch AthenaCoordinator sometime during the third quarter of this year.

"By integrating Proxsys into AthenaNet, information would be able to flow more easily throughout the healthcare supply chain, improving care coordination for current and future clients. It would be the latest piece of the national health information backbone we have been steadily constructing," Bush said in a statement. "Buying Proxsys would allow us to turn care coordination, referral, and order facilitation services into an immediate, market-ready reality."

The hope is that hospitals will help drive the adoption of the AthenaCoordinator service into affiliated practices to reduce costs and provide better control of patient care for both the hospital and the ordering provider. As physicians send orders, such as requests for lab results, through AthenaCoordinator, the company believes it will spur adoption of the service by other hospital systems in the community.

"There is a tremendous amount of administrative pain, liability, cost waste, and redundancy that has been bottle-necking the flow of vital health information. In joining with Athenahealth, we can support a broad marketplace for this information, making exchange easier for hospitals, providers, and patients." George Salem, founder and president of Proxsys, said in a statement.

Salem also said both companies rely on a common cloud-based service model, which will help them integrate their services, and drive a level of efficiency, accuracy, and clarity into the healthcare supply chain that is not being realized today.

Proxsys, a Birmingham, Ala.-based company, offers services for care coordination, order transmission, referral management, hospital patient registration, and insurance pre-certification.

Proxsys' technology also supports quality of care and patient satisfaction, decreases the instances of denied or delayed claims payments and bad debt, and increases efficiencies and revenue. Proxsys serves approximately 90 clients, including certain Athenahealth enterprise hospital clients, representing approximately 8,000 physicians and 60,000 patient registrations every month.

Join InformationWeek Healthcare for a virtual event on choosing, deploying, and using electronic health record systems. It happens July 27. Find out more and register.

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