Emerging from temporary obscurity, McKesson HBOC last week jump-started its Internet strategy by buying the means to move into World Wide Web-based delivery of clinical software and transaction processing.
San Francisco-based McKesson acquired Abaton.com, a privately held developer of Internet-based applications for use by clinicians in ambulatory settings. McKesson also signed a three-year licensing agreement for the Internet claims processing technology of Dallas-based Claimsnet.com. Financial terms were not disclosed for either deal.
The announcements offered "the first glimpses of an e-health strategy that's being conducted through internal development efforts and outside agreements and acquisitions," said Larry Kurtz, a McKesson spokesman.
Kurtz said the acquisition of Abaton includes the bonus of a skilled management team headed by James Bradley, who will continue as the Bloomington, Minn.-based company's chief executive officer and also help spearhead McKesson's overall e-health strategy.
McKesson's information technology business, formerly HBO & Co., has the industry's largest installed base of healthcare customers for a comprehensive array of software, much of it acquired in a six-year spree that ended with HBO's purchase by McKesson Corp. in January.
Besides disclosures last summer of widespread irregularities in overstating sales, a comprehensive investigation also revealed that internal efforts to integrate scores of acquired applications were far behind the pace of progress intimated by HBO executives (June 28, p. 22).
But Benjamin Rooks, a Chicago-based healthcare analyst at CIBC World Markets, said there was still time to make inroads. "It's still very early in the game. You take McKesson HBOC's installed base and Jim's technology expertise and that makes it pretty interesting."