Paul Black is CEO of Allscripts and he’ll be with me at Health 2.0 on October 1-4. Paul has been CEO of Allscripts for about five years, taking over from Glen Tullman who grew the company aggressively by acquisition over the previous decade. Paul has been steering Allscripts through a pretty big transformation for the past few years, and they’ve been the major EMR vendor that has most aggressively reached out to the startup tech community. This is an edited transcript of an interview we had in late August. — Matthew Holt
Matthew Holt: Paul thanks for talking with me today, but also we’re going to have you on for a quick chat when you’ll be on the main stage at Health 2.0, of which Allscripts has been a great supporter. Your colleagues Tina Joros and Erik Kins have been there for many years but not you, so I ‘m thrilled to have you coming in early October. Paul, welcome!
Paul Black: Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be on the call with you today.
Matthew: Let’s dive in to the current state of play. There’s been some changes over the last five to seven years since the HITECH dollars came in, as more and more physicians, and more and more hospitals put in electronic medical records.
Obviously, Allscripts, was, I think, it’s right to say, built by Glen and Lee Shapiro via lot of acquisitions, especially with the Eclipsys purchase, with the goal of becoming a big player in that meaningful use world. And obviously, you have your old company, Cerner, and your friends from Wisconsin, Epic, who have been very dominant becoming a single platform for many large integrated delivery systems. Can you give me your sense of where the mainstream enterprise EMR market is at the moment?
Paul: I think that the mainstream EMR market in United States is becoming a mature market. And by that I mean it’s a marketplace in which almost every institution, almost every hospital, almost every post-acute facility, almost every ambulatory facility, has some semblance of an electronic medical record system. And certainly, they have an electronic billing set of capabilities. So, from that standpoint, almost everybody has something with regard to the ordering the management of and the documentation surrounding a clinical series of events.
Matthew: Give me a sense of how you think that’s changing in terms of the split between the integrated systems which are covering in-patients and out-patients, with physicians using the same system on both sides of the fences were, and the continued, I would say growth, but probably more accurately the continued existence of a large ambulatory-only segment of the market? After all that’s different for not only the way that the health systems and medical groups organize, but also the way that they’re served by organizations like you and Epic and many others. Is that system integration continuing or do you think that trend is kind of stopping?
Paul: I’ll take it from a couple of different angles. One is from an integration at the industry level, what has been vertical integration of large integrated delivery networks, or large multispecialty groups, especially practices, or in some cases, payers who are acquiring assets. I tend to see that while there was a lot going on over the course of the last four, five years, I’m starting to see people be more focused on what they’ve already acquired, and looking at operational efficiency and looking internally to ensure that they’re gleaning the expected returns, both clinically and financially, of the original goals of how they built those enterprises. That means from a culture standpoint, from an operation standpoint, and from a financial standpoint.
So, I don’t sense that there is as much of a, if you will, a go-go attitude to the continuation of acquisitions. I don’t think it’s necessarily been a conscious pause, but in some cases there’s been a lot of affiliations and acquisitions that have caused people to really have to make sure that they’ve done the things they need to do to really operationalize and to optimize the assets and the people that they are now a part of a new overall enterprise. I think from an industry standpoint of the people that serve that marketplace, us and some of the companies that you mentioned today, I see it’s just a natural progression of the other point that you’ve started with about where do we find ourselves in the state of the industry.Continue reading…