Watertown, Mass.-based athenahealth Inc., which offers outsourced physician billing services with practice management/electronic health records software, will acquire point-of-care drug and disease reference vendor Epocrates for about $293 million. Athenahealth's stock price rose about 3 percent in very early trading on January 7 following the announcement.

The acquisition brings to athenahealth a mobile computing vendor with sizable market share of the nation’s physicians--some 330,000 users--but with a history of being unable to fully monetize its content and huge client base. Clinical users get the Epocrates content for free with sponsors, particularly drug companies, funding the service. Athenahealth expects Epocrates to have about $110 million in revenue during 2012, down from $113 million in 2011.

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