industry update

Allscripts Acquisition of Practice Fusion Will Change the EHR Landscape

January 12, 2018

What happened?

On Tuesday, January 8th, Allscripts, a global leader in healthcare technology, announced acquisition of Practice Fusion, a cloud-based EHR platform, for $100 million. Allscripts and Practice Fusion are ranked the #3 and #4 EHR systems by market share according to SK&A in 2017. The acquisition makes Allscripts the single largest ambulatory-practice EHR in the US and extends its reach into smaller practices.

The acquisition is intended to help Allscripts expand its big data insights and analytics, data sharing technologies, and clinical trial solutions. The move also expands the company’s EHR business as 30,000 ambulatory practices currently use Practice Fusion’s EHR.

This new deal comes less than six months after Allscripts acquired McKesson’s hospital and health system business for $185 million. That deal also added an additional EHR to Allscripts’ offerings, and, importantly, expanded its footprint in U.S. large practice health systems, where Epic and Cerner currently dominate.

What are the implications for pharma marketers?

1. Marketing in the EHR will benefit from this merger. For the time being, Practice Fusion will carry on business as usual, but down the road it’s likely that Allscripts and Practice Fusion will develop packaged service offerings for Life Science companies, including datasets, analytics, messaging, Clinical Decision Support, and other services, lessening complication for marketers looking to have impact across the widest set of EHRs (and thus, widest reach of customers) possible. Additionally, Practice Fusion’s strengths in data analytics, marketing solutions, and User Experience (UX) will likely enhance the company’s marketing offerings overall.

2. Get ready for a potential acquisition frenzy. Since 2013, pundits have been predicting that the fragmented EHR landscape would consolidate; however, as of 2017, there were still >600 EHRs in the US. That may be about to change. Coming on the heels of the McKesson and Practice Fusion acquisitions, the pressure on other EHRs to seek partners will increase, and larger EHRs without a strong ambulatory presence go on the hunt to gain share in this area.

3. An EHR trend emerges: Shifting from compliance to innovation. The recent acquisitions also point to a new trend for EHRs: a shift from compliance with Meaningful Use to innovation. As noted by Allscripts CEO, Paul Black, in an article by Healthcare IT News, Allscripts (and every other EHR) had to devote significant energy and resources in the past several years toward meeting the ACA’s Meaningful Use requirements and obtaining ONC certification. With those milestones behind them, Allscripts can now shift focus to developing innovative solutions in areas like Population Health, Precision Medicine, post-acute care, and patient/consumer platforms. These solutions will provide new options for marketers to engage and support their customers.

What should marketers do?

For marketers already active in the EHR space, no action is necessary at the current time. Practice Fusion and Allscripts will continue to conduct business as usual with no interruption of active programs. For marketers who have been tentative about diving head-first into the EHR space, now is THE time for a couple of reasons.

Broadly, HCP marketing is changing, quickly — healthcare providers now use EHRs nearly 4 hours per day and sales rep access has dipped below 50% — and marketers need new approaches to engage their customers now or risk being ignored.

Piloting new programs in the EHR space to see what is most effective for your brand ASAP will get you ahead of the game in developing even more complex programs in the future as players consolidate, evolve, and innovate.

And, very practically, some partners already have their inventory in leading categories sold out for all of 2018 — the boat has truly been missed for laggards!

Need guidance on how to navigate the changing waters in HCP marketing? Heartbeater Hudson Plumb is your Captain (and SVP, Group Account Director) — find him at