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Leading vendor of cloud-based services for physician practices and inpatient settings, Athenahealth, Inc. (ATHN - Analyst Report) recently reported that its company Epocrates has furthered collaborations with Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Comprehensive Cancer Network(R) (NCCN(R)). Epocrates serves as a mechanism for medical entities to provide content to medical practitioners at the point of care. 

AHRQ ensures that medical practitioners receive current data through the National Guideline Clearinghouse and it transmits comparable effectiveness studies. Since medical professionals are used to receiving messages on Athenahealth’s Epocrates, it is natural for them to receive data from AHRQ on this forum. Till date in 2013, Epocrates has chosen over 35 guidelines to be delivered on its DocAlert messaging setup.

CDC engages with Epocrates on subjects such as immunization and diseases. Epocrates is able to target data to doctors on a regional or topical basis. This Athenahealth company is able it to deliver the most useful content in a mobile-friendly manner.

Athenahealth’s Epocrates recently bolstered its free app using the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. Medical specialists can rapidly view certain NCCN Guidelines for cancer of the colon, breast and prostate. Data on other tumors is expected shortly.

In Mar 2013, Athenahealth accomplished the takeover of Epocrates, a pioneer of mobile health workflows and point-of-care health apps. The Epocrates network consists of a million medical professionals.

Athenahealth’s web-based deployment provides a low-cost scalable service while its flexible rules engine leads to higher efficiency in claims settlement. The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based approach allows for a more flexible delivery mechanism that helps Athenahealth win deals. The company has traditionally enjoyed high customer satisfaction rates, which facilitates a larger number of referrals.

Athenahealth’s unique business model makes it a strong provider of RCM services (athenaCollector) designed for small physician practices. Its EHR product (athenaClinicals) is a key player in ambulatory settings. We believe that sales of athenaClinicals are likely to remain robust. In addition, the company will harness its newer products, namely athenaCommunicator and athenaCoordinator.

Athenahealth should benefit from its extensive athenaCollector client base, as only a minority of its subscriber base also utilizes athenaClinicals. Cross selling represents a real growth opportunity in the near term. In this regard, Athenahealth has made rapid strides in capturing the EHR business of physician practices. However, this segment is shrinking, as hospitals increasingly absorb physician’s medical practices.

Athenahealth is geared to establish itself in the enterprise segment. The company has recently signed on and executed several enterprise-sized deals, which provides a credible and referenceable client base.

Though fresh opportunities are shrinking, the replacement market has been growing. Competition is fierce and larger competitors may benefit from the incumbency factor. Industry stalwarts such as Cerner Corporation (CERN - Analyst Report) offer long-standing seamless products which integrate inpatient and ambulatory-care systems. Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, Inc. (MDRX - Analyst Report) is another player in a crowded field.

We currently have a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) on the company. However, we are more positive about other stocks such as Merge Healthcare Incorporated (MRGE - Analyst Report) which carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) and is expected to do well.

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