Emis software proving just the remedy for GPs

MEDICAL software group EMIS has marked its first year as a listed company with a strong rise in both profits and sales as more GPs adopt its software.

The Leeds-based group, which supplies software for medical professionals to computerise and share patients’ records, reported an 11 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to £16.1m for the year to December 31.

EMIS said its market share increased during the year thanks to winning over 398 GP practices in Scotland.

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Its software is now used by 54 per cent of GP sites, up from 52 per cent a year earlier.

EMIS chief executive Sean Riddell said: “Historically, data has been locked away in GPs’ offices. EMIS Web means they can share data with other health practitioners, obviously with the permission of all concerned.

“One of our customers said our system can save one day a week in admin time.”

The group’s revenues rose eight per cent to £62.4m during 2010.

EMIS is capitalising on reforms to the National Health Service.

The company believes it will benefit from Government plans to place responsibility for decision-making and commissioning of NHS services in the hands of doctors.

Last year’s NHS White Paper proposed the abolition of primary care trusts, replacing them with consortia of GPs.

EMIS computerises patients’ records and links GPs and other medical professionals, allowing them to share data.

Its newly-launched EMIS Web service connects GPs with other NHS professionals by enabling secure and shared access to patients’ electronic records.

It allows medical staff – from chiropodists to neurosurgeons – access to patients’ cradle-to-grave medical histories at the click of a button, allowing them to make faster and better-informed decisions.

By the end of the year, EMIS Web had been rolled out at 44 GP surgeries and 433 orders had been placed for the service.

Another 1,665 practices have ordered the EMIS Web ‘familiarisation service’, which allows doctors to run the tool alongside their existing software to judge the difference.

The company has seen a strong take-up from the new GP consortia.

“Of the first wave of 52 GP consortia announced, representing 22 per cent of England’s GP practices, 77 per cent are already EMIS users,” said Mr Riddell.

“These pathfinder organisations will shape the way that GP consortia operate in the future.”

EMIS said it has decided to exit its Canadian operation, which analysts believe has proved a drag on performance. It accounts for less than one per cent of revenues.

Analyst Roger Phillips, at house broker Evolution Securities, said: “Unusually, the group’s solidity of business model combines with an extremely strong organic growth story in the medium to long term.

“EMIS has considerable potential to deliver organic growth from upgrading the existing GP base to EMIS Web.”

In January, EMIS won a five-year contract, with an initial value of £1.8m, to deliver a shared patient healthcare record for primary healthcare teams across Cheshire.

“The Cheshire win is a hint of the massive greenfield opportunity that the business has,” said Mr Phillips. “EMIS has not sold into this part of the NHS before EMIS Web.”

The group also announced that chairman Tony Jones is standing down to be replaced by healthcare expert Michael O’Leary, the former chief executive of Marlborough Stirling and Huon Corporation.

Mr O’Leary, 58, has twenty years of main board experience in a public company environment, including both FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies.

Mr Riddell said: “We stated at the time of our IPO that we intended to recruit a suitably experienced independent non-executive chairman and, following an extensive search, are delighted to be able to appoint someone of Mike’s calibre.

“Mike brings a wealth of relevant experience in the software and IT healthcare services sector, which we are sure will help us to execute our strategy and realise our growth plans for the business.”

He said of Mr Jones: “On behalf of the board, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tony, one of the group’s three founders, for his great contribution to the business over more than 20 years and to wish him a long and happy retirement.”

Last month EMIS won a major contract to monitor and help improve the health of Australia’s armed forces. It will supply a new electronic health information system for the Australian Defence Force.