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Community Hospital Vendor Acquires Emergency Offering

Healthcare Management Systems buys MedHost for its emergency department system.
Healthcare Management Systems' parent company, HealthTech Holdings, has acquired MedHost, a provider of emergency department systems.

The companies will develop an integrated ED system to be used with HMS's health information system for community hospitals.

"We think this will be a big win for our customers," said Tom Stephenson, CEO of HMS, which has over 650 community hospital clients. They'll be able to get a "functionally rich" ED system from a company they've worked with for years, he said. "It becomes more attractive when its one-stop shopping," he added.

Neither company's customers will see any dip in service levels as the two organizations work to get in synch, he said. "MedHost will essentially operate as an independent entity. Its support and implementation staff won't be pulled onto HMS accounts, nor will our team be pulled onto MedHost projects."

While MedHost will continue to provide ED systems for large community and tertiary hospitals, HMS will work with the newly acquired organization to develop a scaled-down version for cash-constrained community hospitals--the core of HMS's customer suite, Stephenson said. "By and large, our customers don't have an ED system, so we'll focus on creating something that can work for them," he said.

Community hospitals have been reluctant to venture into this space on their own, with all the integration work it entails, he said. "But now they can come to us with any issues." In addition, HMS has a sophisticated integration strategy that goes beyond the surface-level interface many vendors use to weave together acquired products, Stephenson said.

"When you develop a product from scratch, there's a deeper level of integration, but we plan to go three of four levels deep," beyond the exchange of ADT and demographic information between the health information system and ED, said Stephenson, who started his career as a programmer.

Though there may be opportunities to sell HMS's core system into the MedHost client base, the impetus for the acquisition came from the other direction. That's because most organizations either don't have an emergency department system or are frustrated with the one that came as part of an enterprise package. "ED physicians demand a level of functionality that's often lacking in the offerings from enterprise vendors," Stephenson said.

The most attractive selling point to hospital administrators isn't the clinical workflow, but rather a robust charge capture feature which can keep ED dollars from walking out the door. "Charge capture is a huge part of the ED system," says Stephenson.

This acquisition comes on the heels of HMS' addition of the HMS Ambulatory electronic health record, which lets the company offer a clinical package that incorporates physician practice management and EHR functionality to facilitate care between the physician's office and hospital.

Anthony Guerra is the founder and editor of healthsystemCIO.com, a site dedicated to serving the strategic information needs of healthcare CIOs. He can be reached at [email protected]

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