News and deal roundup: Best Buy’s $400M for Current, VA’s Cerner restart 2022, CVS-Microsoft product deal, and Athenahealth (finally) sold for $17B

Whew! Best Buy revealed on its quarterly earnings call that they paid $400 million for Edinburgh/Boston-based RPM developer Current Health [TTA 13 Oct]. It’s near the end of the call transcript published on the Motley Fool. There will be no impact on their financial performance this year and will have a slightly negative impact on the Q4 non-GAAP operating income. Hat tip to HISTalk

Also today in HISTalk is a nifty summary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Cerner implementation timing and restaffing. There’s a graphic on the 2022-23 (FY 2022-24) rollout plus the new organization. VA has appointed a new Program Executive Director, Terry Adirim, MD, MPH, MBA, moving from Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, and established a new EHR Integration Council. VA release. VA also published a 10 page analysis on what went wrong with the initial tests and lessons learned, such as creating an EHR ‘sandbox’ for clinician training.

CVS Health and Microsoft continue with a new partnership, this time for digital health products. The five-year deal will include development in two areas: personalizing health recommendations that direct consumers to when and where they need a CVS, and operationally to leverage technology and machine learning for automation to reduce waste. Microsoft release, Healthcare Dive, HealthcareFinanceNews

And in the biggest non-surprise of the past few days, Athenahealth’s (or as they prefer, athenahealth) sale closed before the end of the year in a deal valued at $17 billion. The buyers were, as expected [TTA 19 Nov], Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman, along with Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. The 24 year-old Athenahealth, one of the EHR pioneers, was acquired by Elliot Investment Management’s PE arm Veritas and Evergreen Coast Capital in 2019 for about $5.7 billion. Its base is down to about 140,000 ambulatory care providers, having exited the small hospital market some time back. In the EHR market dominated by Epic and Cerner, surely Veritas and Evergreen are relieved to be at least getting some cash back. But there’s Misery Sharing, as they are both retaining a minority investment. (A small hint from a marketer–never lower-case the first letter in any part of your name. You make yourself unimportant and it hasn’t been ‘modern’ for a loooong time. It wasn’t lucky for British Airways, either. Perhaps the new majority owners will get this.)  Healthcare Dive, Business Wire

Comings and goings: Cuts hit Athenahealth, IBM Watson’s Drug Discovery unit; Bain may sell Waystar RCM

Athenahealth has announced they are trimming 4 percent of their total workforce. With a large 900-person campus in Belfast, Maine that once belonged to MBNA credit cards, and a workforce of about 5,000 headquartered in Watertown, Massachusetts, there is considerable local concern in an area of Maine that offers few well-paying jobs. Reportedly dozens of jobs there will be lost. This caps a tumultuous period with the company. Athenahealth was acquired last November by Veritas Capital and Evergreen Coast Capital, then merged with a GE Healthcare spinoff they owned, Virence Health, in value-based care, under the Athenahealth name. Bangor Daily News

IBM Watson’s Drug Discovery product, which was targeted to pharmaceutical companies, is being cut back to work with only current partners and with clinical trials due to poor sales. According to The Register, a tart-tongued UK tech website which actually reached an IBM spokesperson, IBM’s Ed Barbini stated that “We are not discontinuing our Watson for Drug Discovery offering, and we remain committed to its continued success for our clients currently using the technology.” Also Seeking Alpha. IBM Watson and Watson Health, like Athenahealth, are moving through a rocky period of closing initiatives (Watson Workplace), layoffs, executive departures (head Deborah DeSanzo last November), bad publicity, and clients like MD Anderson who don’t part quietly. [TTA 8 Nov 18].

Another merged health infotech company may have a new owner soon. Waystar, which was formed by the acquisition of ZirMed and Navicure in 2017 and manages revenue cycles for 450,000 practices, is rumored to be up for sale by owner Bain Capital. Interested parties include Visa and OracleBloomberg