Symphony Technology Group has completed its acquisition of the majority of McKesson’s European healthcare software business and appointed the former senior management team of System C to lead the new UK business. 

In a remarkable comeback story, Dr Ian Denley and Markus Bolton have been appointed by Symphony to lead the new business, which will be called System C. 

In an exclusive interview with EHI, the pair said they plan to “disrupt” the current health and social care IT market. Staff at McKesson were due to be informed of the news this morning.

The pair successfully led the System C business, founded by Bolton in 1983, up to a £87m sale to McKesson in 2011

The company enjoyed rapid growth as deployment and services specialist under the National Programme for IT, while still developing the Medway electronic patient record software.

The two left McKesson in 2012 and subsequently set up the health IT accelerator firm Shearwater Health, which has invested in firms including Graphnet Health.

The new System C’s core products will be the Medway EPR, and related clinical applications, plus social care software specialist Liquidlogic and all the UK-based McKesson businesses acquired by Symphony.

Denley will be responsible for corporate affairs, research and development, and the overall running of the company. Bolton will be responsible for sales, strategy and deployment services. Both have taken a stake in the new company.

They will bring with them key former System C directors, including chief technology officer, and original lead developer of the Medway EPR product, Simon Cavell.

Denley told EHI: “The aim is to be disruptive. Through innovations in mobility, analytics, patient facing services and integrated health and social care I’d like to think we can do that again.”

Bolton added: “The UK health and social care IT market is changing extremely quickly. To stay ahead you really need to be quite entrepreneurial.” 

He said that McKesson has built a strong market position, deploying 11 Medway EPRs in the last 12 months, bringing up a total of 19 Medway customers. “That is a tremendous achievement and has really consolidated the company’s position as a major player in this market.”

However, he acknowledged that the core Medway product requires further work.  “I’d say the patient administration system and departmentals are strong, A&E and maternity very strong, and clinicals are unfinished business.”

Denley said he intends to change the way System C develops products, speeding up development cycles and bringing them closer to customers.

“The market has moved on so much in the past two year and System C needs to be re-positioned and operate in a different way. Customers can expect product releases in six to12 months, including big improvements in both our Medway PAS and clinicals.” 

He also said the company needs “to get clinicians much more engaged in changes and development of products” and that mobility is a high priority. “The future in acute hospitals cannot be desk based. We will provide new types of interface for people based on mobile.”  

Further developments are promised in “applications and portal tools to engage patients in their own healthcare.”

Denley said that to help foster a more open development and deeper engagement with clinicians System C will publish the application programming interfaces to Medway. “We are completely committed to open platforms and APIs.”

Denley argued that, through Liquidlogic, the company is well placed to help organisations integrate services across health and social care settings. He added that there are significant opportunities to leverage technology capabilities from across Symphony, particularly on mobile and analytics.    

Marshall Haines, managing director of Symphony, has been appointed chairman of System C group. 

He said of the appointments: “The provision of PAS/EPR systems is a highly complex business. We needed experienced senior managers with a deep understanding of the UK healthcare IT market, who share our passion for product innovation and first-rate service to customers.”  

McKesson’s software operations in France and the Netherlands will be run completely separately from the UK operations.

As EHI reported last month, McKesson has retained its UK Workforce Solutions Group, although it will not bid to run the new NHS Electronic Health Record. Its digital imaging business is also not inclued in the transaction.