Hospital chain HCA, which relies heavily on ancillary physician software vendor PatientKeeper, will acquire the company for an undisclosed sum.

HCA operates 164 hospitals and 114 surgery centers and has used PatientKeeper applications for seven years in its hospitals. PatientKeeper sells a range of software that includes a physician portal, charge capture including prompting of additional content to support PQRS measurement reporting, charge analytics, desktop and mobile CPOE, medication reconciliation, clinical documentation, mobile access to patient records, e-prescribing, sign-out, electronic signature, and care transition management.

In a statement, HCA noted that the acquisition “gives us important influence in the layer of the electronic health record that the doctor sees, creating an innovative platform for workflow improvement.” The organization also will add additional PatientKeeper applications including CPOE, medication reconciliation and documentation. Additional comment from HCA was not immediately available.

PatientKeeper President and CEO Paul Brient will continue to lead the vendor as a wholly owned subsidiary of HCA with 160 employees continuing to operate out of its Waltham, Mass.-based headquarters. They will continue to serve more than 100 clients and to market the products across the industry. HCA expects to close the acquisition in late 2014.

John Osberg, managing partner at Informed Partners LLC, a consultancy specializing in facilitating partnerships, acquisitions and divestitures, believes the acquisition was a defensive move by HCA, which could not afford to have a change of ownership in PatientKeeper that could be negative to HCA’s interests. PatientKeeper serves 58,000 physicians with much of that growth occurring in the last four years as the electronic health records meaningful use program ramped up, with the vendor offering many applications that support the program. The vendor’s high level of adoption in recent years of its cross-platform technology with extensive integration expertise brings it to the attention of multiple suitors, he notes.

The acquisition, Osberg says, is a calculated bet that HCA can get more benefit from PatientKeeper and handle a loss of existing clients “that is very predictable.”

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