EMIS purchase by UnitedHealth provisionally cleared by CMA
The Competition and Markets Authority has provisionally cleared the proposed £1.2bn purchase of EMIS by US health care giant UnitedHealth following an “in-depth investigation”.
EMIS currently provides ProScript Connect and PharmOutcomes in the community pharmacy sector, as well as supplying clinical IT systems to between 50-60 per cent of GP practices across the UK.
UnitedHealth, which operates as Optum in the UK, is a US-based multinational company that provides healthcare services, insurance and data tools. Optum currently supplies software used by GPs when prescribing medicines, as well as data analytics and advisory services that the NHS uses to help improve overall healthcare and health service provision.
A CMA Phase 1 investigation had identified initial concerns that an Optum-EMIS merger ran the risk of worse outcomes for the NHS by reducing competition. These concerns have been probed in more detail in a Phase 2 investigation overseen by an independent panel which has now provisionally found the merger does not raise competition concerns.
The investigation confirmed that EMIS, as the lead supplier to NHS GPs across the UK, holds a particularly strong market position in the supply of electronic patient record systems but further evidence-gathering and analysis found the combination of this position with Optum’s activities should not present competition concerns.
The CMA will now consult on its provisional findings before reaching a final decision. Responses from interested parties should be submitted by 1 September. These will be considered ahead of the CMA issuing its final report which is due by 5 October.
If the merger goes ahead two US multinational companies will be playing a crucial role in managing NHS patient data. In June, in a controversial move, NHS England awarded US-based tech company Palantir a 12-month contract worth £25 million to 'transition' existing data systems to a new federated data platform. The announcement sparked concerns from the British Medical Association and others about confidential patient information.