Primary Care News

Markets authority provisionally clears £1.2 billion EMIS purchase

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally cleared and found no competition concerns for UnitedHealth’s proposed £1.2 billion purchase of EMIS.

The CMA noted that while the merging businesses do not supply competing services, Optum part of UnitedHealth, and its competitors use the data that EMIS holds and integrate with EMIS’s electronic patient record system to compete in other markets. The statement highlighted this includes the supply of population health management services and medicines optimisation software.

In January 2023, the authority launched a Phase 1 investigation, noting the “identified initial concerns that the merger ran the risk of worse outcomes for the NHS by reducing competition.” The statement added that “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 statement added that: “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.”

One of the areas of concern the authority noted, was for the supply of population health management services: “The independent panel provisionally found that the merged business would not, in practice, be able to use the EMIS business to harm the competitiveness of rivals. This is primarily because the NHS would be able to use its oversight role to prevent the merged business from pursuing this kind of strategy.”

Kirstin Baker, chair of the independent inquiry panel carrying out the investigation, said: “Digital technology and data analytics play an increasingly important role in supporting high quality healthcare in the NHS and so it’s important we investigate this deal thoroughly. We want to ensure the NHS continues to benefit from innovation and efficiencies brought about by technology services competing for its business. After carefully considering a broad range of evidence, we have provisionally found that this deal is not expected to harm competition or adversely affect patients.”

The authority will now consult on its findings and seek any further views before reaching a final decision.

To view the publication, please visit the CMA website here.