Optum, a subsidiary of the US corporation United Health, is to acquire Leeds-based EMIS Group, one of the UK’s largest handlers of NHS data. The deal values EMIS at approximately £1.24 million; the deal was unanimously approved by the EMIS board of directors.

The deal will be transacted via a UK-based company, Bordeaux UK Holdings II Ltd, set up by Optum, which has offered EMIS 1.925 pence per share.

EMIS supplies electronic patient record (EPR) systems and software across the NHS, but its major business is in GP practices and community pharmacy. EMIS notes that it was one of the first to develop GP record systems that permit patients access to their record and technology that allows GPs to tailor the parts of the record that patients can see. The company shares the GP practice market with TPP and its SystmOne software. 

The company’s technology, ProScript and ProScript Connect, are widely used in community pharmacies. Both systems enable pharmacies to manage the dispensing process and handle tasks such as labelling and endorsing, patient records, ordering and stock control.

Optum has acquired EMIS at a critical moment in the development of digital integration across the NHS.  As organisations work more closely together within integrated care systems (ICS) the various IT systems and electronic patient record (EPR) systems also need to work seamlessly across the ICS. In early 2022, NHS England requested plans from ICSs on digital convergence – how they will reduce the number of EPR systems within the ICS. 

HSJ reported in May 2022 that four out of five ICS are a long way off achieving  a convergence of EPR systems. HSJ’s analysis of trusts’ EPRs revealed that just nine of the 42 ICSs have an EPR in all their provider trusts, and also have three or fewer main EPRs in their area. The analysis also found that there were 12 ICSs that use between four and six different EPRs, and 12 ICSs that use between seven and 10 different EPRs. Within many ICS there were also trusts without EPRs.  The analysis did not include ambulance trusts, which use different EPRs. Digital convergence could be a long way off in many ICS.

EMIS is a dominant company in the GP and community care market, but ICS development will mean this market will have to work with systems produced by a number of other companies, including Cerner, Meditech and Intersystems, that are leaders in the secondary care market.

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