Hearst’s Acquisition of Milliman Care Guidelines is the Latest Example of a Content/Media Provider Doubling-Down on Clinical Decision Support

NOV 13

After a prolonged period of M&A inactivity, Hearst Business Media makes a significant and compelling move by acquiring Milliman Care Guidelines.  The combination expands Hearst’s customer footprint across the payer-provider landscape, propelling it forward in the “race” toward improved levels of clinical decision support in the emerging value-based reimbursement paradigm.  Specifically, the point of care decision support strengths of Zynx Health (order sets, care plans) and First Databank (medications), are greatly enhanced with the addition of Milliman’s care management/coordination and utilization review capabilities which have longed served as an industry benchmark alongside McKesson’s InterQual product.

Through the acquisition, Hearst is strongly positioned to be an enabler of actionable content and decision support tools that more closely align clinical delivery workflows with utilization review and reimbursement processes.  Crossing the proverbial “chasm” between clinical-financial data is a critical component to any ACO-like arrangement as it relates to providing healthcare providers with the tools they need to monitor, improve, and most importantly quantify clinical outcomes and quality.

This deal highlights a string of recent acquisitions in the healthcare content/decision support segment whereby several incumbent content and publishing companies are seeking to extend their value proposition to payers and providers through clinically-integrated, highly actionable content.  Here are a few other examples outside the Milliman Care Guidelines transaction:


Thomson Reuters, another significant content/media player, viewed the landscape differently and decided to divest its healthcare unit (n/k/a Truven Health Analytics) to Veritas Capital for a reported $1.25 billion.  The decision no doubt was influenced by the insurgence of sophisticated healthcare companies that have been actively investing in the clinical decision support and analytics space for years (e.g., Aetna, Optum, Verisk Health, The Advisory Board Company and its affiliation to Evolent Health, McKesson, and more recently Human with its acquisition of Certify Data Systems and Anvita Health).

As the competition grows increasingly fierce in the race toward enabling the new value-based reimbursement environment, there is pronounced value evident in actionable content that leverages the expertise of physicians, pharmacists, PhD-level healthcare informaticists, clinical coders, and a host of other administrators, clinicians, and specialists.  These expert content teams, along with scalable technology platforms and channels to key decision makers power clinically validated insights that adhere to and take into account the complex regulatory underpinnings inherent in the healthcare industry.

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Seth Kneller