Wolters Kluwer’s $170 million pending acquisition of patient engagement vendor Emmi Solutions—with a price tag of more than 6 times Emmi’s annual revenue—brings more tools to aid providers and payers in improving the quality of care while reducing costs.

Wolters Kluwer, which in the past has distributed patient educational leaflets for physicians and insurers to give to patients to better understand their medical conditions and treatments, now can offer online education that more deeply engages patients in their treatment.

That’s the view of John Osberg, a merger and acquisition specialist in Informed Partners, a consulting firm. “This is a big deal and opens the gates for Wolters Kluwer to provide online content for the patient,” he says. “It helps physicians and payers control the interaction with the patient.”

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The high price of the sale validates the increasing importance of the patient as a decision maker, Osberg believes, with consumer-directed healthcare becoming an increasingly significant industry trend.

Wolters Kluwer is a major vendor of clinical and medication decision support software for clinicians; its products include UpToDate, Lexicomp and Medi-Span, among others.

Emmi Solutions sells patient education software for patients to access via television in the hospital or a computing device at home, offering interactive presentations on hundreds of medical conditions and related procedures while also providing informed consent documentation. The education software also can be integrated into information systems or patient portals.

Emmi is a best-of-breed vendor that understands patient behavioral science better than any other company, says Denise Basow, president and CEO of the clinical effectiveness business unit at Wolters Kluwer Health.

While the acquisition deepens Wolters Kluwer’s support for patients, it does not mean the company will sell services directly to patients or consumers, the company emphasizes. The focus remains on helping providers succeed in a value-based care environment where payments reflect the quality of care they provide, Basow says.

That’s because the industry is changing fast and coming full circle from when the physician was at the center—now, the patient is moving to the center, she adds. “We now have a solution for providers and patients reading off the same playbook, which can foster fewer misunderstandings,” she adds. “We’re working to truly engage patients. Emmi does this very well.”


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