Healthcare IT systems specialist, In Practice Systems (InPS), has announced the acquisition of the UK arm of NDCHealth whose Pharmacy Manager solution is used in over 2,000 pharmacies, representing nearly 20% of the UK market. 

The sale, completed at the end of October, was made to Cegedim SA, InPS’s Paris-based owner, and NDC Health Ltd will now be known as Cegedim Pharmacy Services Ltd. Terms were not disclosed.

InPS managing director, Max Brighton, explained the purchase to E-Health Insider. “We have acquired this company for a number of reasons: one is to extend the reach of InPractice Systems in different settings in the healthcare market. The second reason is that like us, it has one product and does not have a legacy position to deal with. It is also independent of the pharmaceutical wholesalers and therefore it has had to thrive on its own merits rather than relying on its parent company to promote its products.”

The acquisition should also strengthen InPS’s position in relation to the National Programme for IT’s work on the electronic transmission of prescriptions (ETP). Owning a retail pharmacy solution complements the company’s current position as a major provider of general practice systems.

Brighton commented: “We feel we have a lot to offer each other in the development and piloting of the ETP project and we believe that by owning both sides of the prescribing and dispensing equation that we can work with the national programme to ensure that that project is more successful that it might otherwise be."

The NDCHealth acquisition follows hot on the heels of another purchase. In August, InPS acquired Saragon Ltd, a Dundee-based company that has provided many of the web-based systems used by Tayside Health Board, a leader in healthcare IT and electronic patient records in Scotland. Saragon is being renamed In Practice Systems Enterprise Solutions Ltd.

Brighton said the acquisition would provide a base to expand the web-based technology development that will become increasingly important over time. The direction of travel is towards ASP-type products managed from a central server.

“We believe there is an appetite for this to take much of the pain of IT away from GP practice," he said.

The two deals should add about 25% to InPS’ ongoing revenues and increase the company’s staff by about the same percentage.  Do they mark the start of an acquisition trail for InPS?

Brighton says: “The company needs to expand its activities organically and by acquisition, but we would only concentrate on acquisitions that extended our technical capability or extended our product coverage in different markets.  We would not be interested in acquiring directly competitive entities."

News about the deals was part of a longer interview with Max Brighton which will appear in E-Health Insider shortly.