Atlanta-based Equifax last week announced the sale of a second healthcare-related business and said it will divest all of its remaining healthcare information services.
The announcement signaled the end of a two-year foray into the healthcare data business for the information-processing giant, which operates a range of businesses for granting credit, processing check and credit-card transactions, and providing insurance services.
Equifax signed a definitive agreement for the sale of Equifax Health Administrative Services to Dallas-based Centra Benefit Services. Terms were not disclosed.
Two remaining business units are on the selling block, including the Equifax Medical Credentials Verification Service, a database service for health plans and providers to verify physician credentials.
The unit had just received comprehensive certification from the National Committee for Quality Assurance covering all 10 separate services that comprise the credentials verification process (See related story, p. 34).
As recently as September, Equifax appeared likely to hang onto the verification service while making plans to divest the rest of the healthcare operating units (Sept. 9, p. 20). That's when the company announced the sale of a claims-processing subsidiary and first disclosed it was re-evaluating its overall commitment to healthcare information services.
In March 1995, Equifax charged into the healthcare market with a strategy for providing a range of information services through a single entry point, from administrative and data-interchange services to database construction and outcomes measurement.
"We entered the health information field because of the industry's need for automation solutions to contain health cost and improve the quality of care," said Daniel McGlaughlin, Equifax president and chief executive officer.
But he said the latest assessment of the industry "convinced us the capital demands for the new acquisitions necessary to compete in the marketplace have grown to a point of potentially interfering with other very ambitious plans we have for our core businesses."
"It was the right move to enter the market when we did," he said. "It's the right move to exit it now."
McGlaughlin said the company was seeking buyers "to protect the long-term interests of these businesses, their respective employers and customers." In addition to the credentials and administrative services, the company is selling Equifax Health Analytical Services, which provides physician profiling and medical claims audit systems.