Regulator warns UnitedHealth EMIS merger could be problematic for NHS

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  • The UK competition commission has warned that a merger between United Health and EMIS for £1.2 billion could increase the cost of digital services for the NHS and hurt taxpayers’ wallets. According to a CMA probe, UnitedHealth may exclude rivals from the market, restrict access to the electronic health record system, and charge rivals exorbitant prices for contracts.

The CMA started a phase one inquiry on January 20. It investigated the potential effects of UnitedHealth’s acquisition of data management firm EMIS on the market for digital and data analytics services to the NHS.

The CMA concluded that the population health management and medications optimisation software markets in particular could experience a “significant reduction” in competition. The NHS’s budgets may be further strained as a result of the reduction because contract costs for “lower quality offerings” may rise.

A significant number of complaints regarding the merger were submitted during its examination, notably by NHS Digital, which has subsequently been integrated with NHS England.

Patients can book appointments, request repeat medications, examine their health information, and contact their general practitioner using the EMIS IT system. This system integrates with apps including the NHS App, Doctorlink, MyGP, and Patient Knows Best.

In the US, UnitedHealth Group is well-known for its medical insurance; in the UK, it does business as Optum. GPs in the NHS presently utilize the software that it provides to prescribe medications to their patients. The NHS also makes use of its data analytics and advisory services to enhance population health management, which is another name for providing healthcare and health services.

While both businesses provide software to the NHS, there are worries that the combination may give Optum an advantage over rivals who rely on EMIS data or integration to operate. If the merger is approved, the regulator warns that their access to EMIS Online may be restricted.

According to the executive summary, the CMA determined that offering drug optimization software required connectivity with GP electronic patient record systems based on evidence from internal documents and outside sources. Medication optimization is the process of suggesting different prescription drugs to a doctor in order to improve effectiveness and lower cost. The CMA will take an additional five working days to decide whether the plan allays its worries or if phase two examination is necessary.

“We notice the news today by the CMA following the conclusion of their initial review of our proposed acquisition of EMIS plc,” an Optum UK spokeswoman stated. We anticipate working with the CMA to come to sufficient undertakings in lieu of reference to Phase II and gaining the approval required to effectively consummate our purchase of EMIS with the full backing of EMIS. On or around March 31, there should be another update.

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