Epocrates drops plans for EHR
Roughly two weeks ago, Epocrates officials were showing off an iPad version of their new electronic health record at the HIMSS12 Conference and Exhibition in Las Vegas. The sleek, easy-to-use EHR app, which operated on screen touches rather than mouse clicks, seemed poised to make a splash in an ever-crowded field, which numbers more than 300 offerings at last count.
Now comes word that the San Mateo, Calif.-based company is abandoning plans to roll out its certified EHR to focus on its mobile clinical tools for physicians. Company officials announced last week that they’re ending the two-year-old project and plan to either sell the EHR assets or find a business partner.
"The foundational strength of Epocrates is our physician network," said Peter Brandt, Epocrates' interim president and chief executive officer, in announcing the company’s fourth quarter and full year 2011 results on FEB. 28. "We believe the opportunities to build upon that strength and expand beyond our current product portfolio throughout our physician network are significant and have the potential to generate meaningful revenue streams for the company.”
“While we have developed a meaningful use certified, state-of-the-art electronic health record, including a native iPad version, the effort has hindered our ability to aggressively pursue such opportunities. As a result, we are exploring strategic alternatives for our EHR offering,” Brandt said in acknowledging the “crowded marketplace” of EHR products. “By focusing more on the natural extensions of our core business and providing trusted content and collaborative solutions, we have the potential to support physicians to an even greater extent and to significantly grow our company."
Epocrates reported a net loss of $3.6 million in 2011, including $6.5 million in the fourth quarter. The company had lost $3.8 million in 2010, but had posted net income of $2.7 million for the last quarter of that year. Annual revenue increased by 9 percent to $113.3 million last year from $104 million in 2010.
"Epocrates' success this year will be defined by our ability to realize the full potential of our physician network – more than 340,000 strong,” Brandt concluded. “Our primary focus will be to strengthen our position of trust with physicians, based on value, which in turn will drive enhanced commercialization opportunities for our business."
In an interview last week with InformationWeek Healthcare, Epocrates Chief Medical Information Officer Thomas Gianulli – who’d shown off the iPad EHR app for reporters at HIMSS12 – said the company couldn’t sustain both its EHR business and its core reference tools business without suffering some loss of quality.
Gianulli said the EHR product still needed some work to entice buyers looking to qualify for Stage 2 of the federal government’s meaningful use provisions. “It wasn’t feature-complete yet,” he said.