(Story updated at 2:19 p.m. Central time.)
Athenahealth has taken a second step toward transforming itself into a vendor of both inpatient and ambulatory-care electronic health-record systems. The cloud-based EHR vendor is buying the enterprise EHR system developed by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston.
Financial terms of the deal were undisclosed.
The Harvard teaching hospital's inpatient EHR, called webOMR, is Web-based. Beth Israel Deaconess uses webOMR in its 649-bed flagship hospital as well as in more than 30 outpatient sites.
Athena plans to integrate its own ambulatory-care EHR with another it bought this year and with the far more feature-rich webOMR, said CEO Jonathan Bush. The Beth Israel Deaconess EHR “brings us deep patient safety and clinical function technology,” he said.
The combined system is to be called athenaClinicals Enterprise, Bush said.
“I have an internal goal that I'd like to see something running at the end of the year,” Bush said, but, “if it takes more than a year, that's fine.”
Until last month, Athenahealth was known primarily for developing practice-management and EHR systems for office-based physicians, and for the popular mobile healthcare app Epocrates, which it acquired in 2013.
But Watertown, Mass.,-based Athena in mid-January bought RazorInsights, of Kennesaw, Ga., a developer of Web-based, inpatient EHRs marketed to small and critical-access hospitals.
Under terms of the latest agreement, Beth Israel Deaconess will retain a license to use the software for 20 years, said Dr. John Halamka, CIO Beth Israel.
Five of the hospital's staff developers will work for Athena one day a week for two years, Halamka said.
The yet-to-be created enterprise system will first be used at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham (Mass.), Halamka, said. The 58-bed community hospital will serve as a type of laboratory for the company to gain experience installing the system and testing how it works.
Beth Israel's EHR was developed over the past 30 years, becoming Web-based in 1998, Halamka said.
With rapid changes underway in health IT, particularly in mobile health, the hospital's leadership decided it was time to take on an outside partner to further develop webOMR, Halamka said.
“We'll accelerate the experience we've had (but) spread it across the country,” Halamka said. “It meets all of those goals for sharing and openness and ensuring the country can benefit from our experience.”
Bush said developers are already working on the new enterprise EHR, but he would not commit to when it would become available at Beth Israel-Needham or for sale in the broader inpatient EHR market.
Athena is not taking aim at inpatient EHR market leaders Epic Systems Corp., Verona, Wis., or Cerner Corp., Kansas City, Mo.—at least not yet, Bush said.
“It is not on our short-term plans to install in any tertiary healthcare system,” Bush said. But, he said, “I'm expecting it to be best in KLAS in five to six years,” he said, referring to the customer satisfaction rankings by KLAS Enterprises, a market research firm based in Orem, Utah.
Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn