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  4. > Vital Signs - Allscripts in Focus: What’s New and What’s Ahead - Select Highlights from ACE 2013

The following Vital Signs presents analyst perspectives from our attendance at ACE 2013. The Allscripts Client Experience (ACE) is the company’s annual user conference, held this year in Chicago, August 21-23. It offers registrants access to educational sessions, networking opportunities and more. During the event, Allscripts shows clients how to get value from the solutions they are using and how to prepare for the enormous change the industry is undergoing. The company also celebrates new innovations and shares many client success stories.

The Allscripts Client Experience (ACE) is the company’s annual user conference. It offers registrants access to educational sessions, networking opportunities and more. During the event, Allscripts shows clients how to get even more value from the solutions they are using and how to prepare for the enormous change the industry is undergoing. The company also celebrates new innovations and shares many client success stories.

Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ: MDRX) held its annual user conference, the Allscripts Client Experience, or ACE, on August 21-23, 2013, the first such event under new CEO Paul Black, former COO of Cerner. Black was appointed to lead the company in December 2012, capping off a tumultuous year that saw the ouster of Allscripts’ long-standing CEO (Glen Tullman) and president (Lee Shapiro), as well as many other executives and board members. The company’s stock took a major hit in 2012 amidst the management shake-up and a series of poor earnings reports, but has since recovered most of its lost value in spite of ongoing earnings difficulties. The meeting was held at Chicago’s McCormick Place and attracted about 4,000 attendees. More than 50 health IT vendor partners and other companies were also in attendance as exhibitors, including industry leaders Dell, Intel, Fujitsu, IBM, M*Modal, Nuance, Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer, Microsoft, 3M, and numerous others.

All vendor user conferences are a combination of marketing, promotion, business development, and all-around cheerleading designed to pump up the energy level among loyal foot soldiers and potential recruits alike. While the energy level was certainly high at this year’s ACE, the overall atmosphere was perhaps a bit more subdued given the upheaval the company has experienced over the past year, and this was appropriate. Black struck exactly the right tone with a careful balance projecting strength, confidence and reassurance, while realistically portraying the company’s recent difficulties and challenges that lie ahead.

The overriding theme of Black’s message was “new”—new leadership, new energy, and new focus—with a clear vision and commitment to a stable and sustainable road map for the future. Key strategy areas for the company include product upgrades, better integration, stability, predictability, and investment. Black emphasized several priority areas for the company, including ensuring customers meet Stage 2 Meaningful Use (MU); ensuring customers’ successful transition to ICD-10; global growth; population health; and innovation. As for MU, Allscripts Sunrise, Enterprise and Professional EHRs are certified for Stage 2 MU, along with Allscripts’ patient portal FollowMyHealth, acquired from the company’s March 2013 acquisition of Jardogs. This is significant, particularly for the inpatient EHR, given that only a handful of vendors have yet to meet this important milestone. (At this writing, Stage 2 MU is scheduled to begin for hospitals in October 2014). With regard to the growing opportunities presented by global health IT markets, Allscripts was particularly keen to highlight its recent inroads into the tough but promising UK market, where NHS hospitals in Salford and Liverpool have recently reported successful implementations of Allscripts Sunrise Acute Care solution. Black said he has strong hopes for Allscripts’ international business and would like for the company’s global markets to eventually eclipse Allscripts’ U.S. business.

Black is shoring up the team with many new executive appointments, including several ex-Cerner folks. Black spent some time at the meeting laying out the company’s new organizational structure, which has continued to evolve since the start of his tenure and now includes new business units specifically devoted to international, Sunrise, and enterprise as well as regional client leaders with general managers focused on specific geographic regions. The new structure is specifically designed to improve client outreach and services. In fact, Black repeatedly emphasized his almost non-stop travel to client sites since his appointment. This is certainly welcome news and the right thing to do. In terms of innovation, Black emphasized Allscripts’ ongoing commitment to R&D (always a robust area for the company); spending is up 35 percent, totaling $220 million for 2013. Black stated that this level of R&D spending is needed to meet client commitments and to deliver the high level of innovation and value that customers expect and need.

Allscripts’ biggest news for 2013 has so far been its acquisitions of HIE vendor dbMotion, which was acquired for $235 million ($145 million cash and $50 million stock), and patient portal/patient engagement company Jardogs, which was bought for an undisclosed amount. Both deals were announced in March 2013 at the annual HIMSS conference. The strategy driving these two strategic acquisitions was discussed repeatedly throughout ACE, namely that dbMotion provides an integration platform that goes across care settings and across disparate IT systems provided by various vendors in order to provide “a single source of truth” that unites patient data into a holistic view. This is absolutely essential technology for Allscripts at this juncture and it will hopefully enable the company to address some of the many concerns about its ongoing integration challenges. Likewise, Jardog’s leading patient portal, FollowMyHealth is exactly the right play for a market that is poised to be dramatically impacted by the growing movement to engage consumers and patients. We were very impressed by the energy and excitement around the new capabilities that these companies bring to the Allscripts portfolio.

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Vital Signs - Allscripts in Focus: What’s New and What’s Ahead - Select Highlights from ACE 2013
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Vital Signs: September 4 2013
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