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Imaging and interoperability solutions provider Merge Healthcare Incorporated (MRGE - Analyst Report) and Hyland Software Inc., a developer of enterprise content management (ECM), extended their long-established partnership to include an integrated comprehensive system for image viewing and storage.

The integrated solution supplements Hyland’s software suite – OnBase for Health Information Management workflows, electronic medical record (EMR) integration and Release of Information capabilities. OnBase involves a wide range of clinical and administrative workflow capabilities. The integrated solution by Hyland and Merge Healthcare will provide access to diagnostic data, both DICOM and non-DICOM, from any EMR on the back of iConnect Access platform and OnBase.

Merge Healthcare’s vendor neutral archive (VNA), dubbed iConnect Enterprise Archive, will enable reciprocal operations in the client organizations by avoiding imaging silos. This in turn will minimize storage costs over the long haul and facilitate connectivity to dissimilar systems.

The collective solution by Merge Healthcare and Hyland will support the enterprise efforts to meet the Stage 2 criteria of the Meaningful Use incentive program via image enablement of the EMR. The combined solution will also enable client organizations to reach HIMSS Stage 7 status of EMR adoption.

According to Merge Healthcare, its iConnect Enterprise Archive is a VNA pioneer, overseeing and storing 37% of the global images. The extended partnership with Hyland is expected to improve workflow efficacy and image management for its customers.

Innovation has been an aggressive strategy for Merge Healthcare to drive growth. Its undertaking to expand its portfolio to meet the growing needs of a multi-billion dollar market is encouraging. The company is also well placed to benefit from the strong demand for EMR-related software in the foreseeable future on the back of the Stimulus bill. As healthcare providers adopt EMR, the demand for Merge Healthcare’s solutions is expected to increase.

We believe that innovation and contract wins for Merge Healthcare will support growth amid a challenging reimbursement environment and sluggish hospital spending in the U.S. With a consentient upward revision in earnings estimate, the stock carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Other Zacks Rank #2 medical stocks are Edwards Lifesciences (EW - Analyst Report), Myriad Genetics (MYGN - Analyst Report) and Conceptus .

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