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How One Small Healthcare IT Firm Is Faring Against the Giants

By Motley Fool Staff - Feb 17, 2016 at 3:03PM

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athenahealth is a niche player in a healthcare IT industry dominated by two larger players. Will it be wiped out as more of the small practices that it serves consolidate?

The healthcare IT sector is dominated by two major companies: Cerner (CERN) and privately-held Epic Systems. But in this clip, Sean O'Reilly and Kristine Harjes look at a smaller player, athenahealth (ATHN).They examine how it's competing in the space, how big the niche it operates in is, and what strategies the company has up its sleeve for future growth.

A full transcript follows the video.

This podcast was recorded on Feb. 12, 2016. 

Sean O'Reilly: I wanted to get your thoughts on athenahealth. This is publicly traded. I've been involved and looking at them through Supernova. What do you think about them?

Kristine Harjes: Right. Athenahealth is an interesting player here, because they're kind of a smaller company, relative to Epic and Cerner. But, they're pretty intriguing to me, because they snap up these small fish that Epic won't touch. Epic is very exclusive about their customers ...

O'Reilly: When you say small fish, do you mean individual doctor's offices?

Harjes: Yeah, exactly, a small practice or a small hospital. And they're going after all of these companies. So, there is this interesting dilemma that they're facing, because they're so much consolidation within the industry that a lot of investors are kind of worried: Are they going to lose their business? If you have your local doctor's office all of the sudden get bought out by a bigger conglomerate practice, will they transfer to Epic's system, if the big hospital is using that?

O'Reilly: Well, not only that, but will your doctor eventually say, "Ugh, all the other hospitals are on Epic System's computer system, I'm just going to give in." At what point does that happen?

Harjes: Interestingly, though -- and, of course, you would expect management to be bullish on its own company --

O'Reilly: Naturally.

Harjes: Management seems to think that the cases going to be that, when you have your small fish getting snapped up, they're actually going to end up transferring to athenahealth. Remains to be seen.

O'Reilly: Really. What? Do they have evidence to support this?

Harjes: Probably? (laughs)

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athenahealth, Inc.
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