Ibex acquisition gives Picis more marketplace clout

By Bernie Monegain
12:00 AM

Picis, a provider of healthcare information technology for hospital emergency rooms and intensive care units, sees its recent acquisition of Ibex as giving it even more leverage in the marketplace.

Ibex technology is designed especially for the operating room.

Together the combined company can offer a full suite of products in the acuity care sector and take the sales conversation to a higher level in the organization, Picis executives say.

Picis is pretty small, said Steve Halper, an analyst at Thomas Weisel Partners, a San Francisco-based investment bank. "But there's opportunity to consolidate these smaller vendors."

Together, Picis and Ibex can carve out more of a presence in the marketplace, Halper said. "The argument is you want to buy more applications from one vendor," he said, "but time will tell." One of the telling factors will be how tightly Picis and Ibex integrate their systems, he said.

Mark Crockett, MD, Ibex co-founder, said a lot of the integration is already done, and Picis CEO and President Todd Cozzens said the challenge now is to tighten the integration.

As Cozzens sees it, the merger puts Picis in just the right position for retooling information systems in the most critical departments of the nation's hospitals.

And, it so happens that the OR, the ER and the ICU offer the most growth opportunity for healthcare IT, he said, because they are either not equipped with IT or equipped with systems that need to be replaced.

All are "very hot" areas for automation, said Cozzens, because only about 10 percent of these hospitals departments are taking advantage of today's available IT technology.

"These are areas where you cannot tolerate half-baked systems," said Cozzens, and one in which Picis is already seen as the "go-to' company by the IT team at most hospitals. Picis is already winning half of the available business in this niche, said Cozzens.

Picis, a $50 million company, spends 45 percent of its revenue on research and development, Cozzens said, a percentage unmatched by most IT developers. Most IT companies invest less than 20 percent of revenue in R&D, he said.

Picis competitors are niche vendors that do not have the breadth of offerings that Picis has, said Cozzens, or they are the traditional IT players like Cerner, McKesson and Eclipsys, who do not specialize in the ER, OR and ICU piece.

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