Will Apple buy athenahealth? Jonathan Bush calls rumor baseless

Financial analysts are suggesting that the computing giant buy athenahealth to gain a foothold in the healthcare space.
By Tom Sullivan
04:24 PM
athenahealth and apple

With Apple’s Wednesday revelation of healthcare and medical records plans for the iPhone, analysts said Thursday that the tech titan should snap up athenahealth – and one reported that athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush is “warm to the idea.”

“Wait, I thought it was that I am interested in buying Apple?!?” Bush responded when asked about the news. “I am you know. Love that company. Not sure I could afford it just yet.” 

Bush also struck a more serious tone: “I know of utterly no basis for this rumor. Not sure who got the ball rolling but it must be a really slow news day.”

That's hardly ever the case in health IT, but that’s another matter.

[Also: Is a takeover of athenahealth inevitable?]

The ball started moving when Citigroup analyst Garen Sarafian wrote in a note to clients that the acquisition would give Apple some 83 million patient records, the cloud vendor’s Epocrates mobile app for doctors and the company’s physician network, CNBC reported.

The website Seeking Alpha, meanwhile, suggested that athenahealth would cost Apple in the ballpark of $7 billion. And it cited Bloomberg in saying that “Athena chief Jonathan Bush is reportedly warm to the idea.”

CNBC’s report, however, had a curious line: “Apple is looking at startups in the cloud hosting space about potential acquisitions that might fit into this plan.”

Whether that was an indirect reference to athenahealth – well beyond the startup phase at this point – or any number of smaller companies, questions have arisen lately about whether athenahealth is ripe for acquisition.

Bloomberg, for instance, called the company an attractive target after activist investor Paul Singer’s Elliott Associates firm bought nearly 10 percent of athenahealth’s stock.

Athenahealth public relations and social media director Holly Spring said that the current speculation is just rumors.

“Our focus remains on building a national information and innovation network, one that drives clinical and financial results to healthcare organizations of all sizes,” she said.

Twitter: SullyHIT
Email the writer: tom.sullivan@himssmedia.com

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