Emis to speed up roll-out of medical system

MEDICAL software group Emis said it is poised to accelerate the roll-out of its “transformational” system which links medical professionals, underpinned by investment in Leeds.

Its Emis Web system is now installed in 450 medical practices, with orders placed for a further 1,401 practices.

It hopes to complete the bulk of the installations by the end of the year. Emis Web links healthcare professionals from neurosurgeons to GPs, allowing them to share patients’ cradle-to-grave medical records.

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The group, which floated on the Alternative Investment Market in 2010, bought Rawdon House in Rawdon, north Leeds, for £1.8m late last year. It plans to expand at the 33,000 square feet site as it creates a medical technology ‘campus’ in the city.

The Leeds-based group yesterday reported a strong 2011, as revenues grew 18 per cent to £73.2m, while operating profits increased 17 per cent to £21.5m.

“We made our promises and we’ve delivered on them,” said chief executive Sean Riddell.

Despite turmoil surrounding the Government’s NHS overhaul, Emis said it is well placed to benefit from the changes which place more power into the hands of groups of GPs, abolishing primary care trusts.

It hopes Emis Web will replace time-consuming ordering of paper records – instead allowing medics access to patients’ notes at the click of a button.

“We focus on the critical care pathways,” said Mr Riddell. “If you start joining up the patient journey, you cannot go far wrong.

“The Government is saying ‘We are going to hand over control to you the NHS. We are going to stop the political interference in a similar way to the Bank of England taking control of interest rates’.

“What happens is you need to have integrated care systems. We are very much aligned with the political agenda.”

Shares in the company yesterday gained 23p, up 4.85 per cent, to close at 497.50p.

While the bulk of Emis Web customers are GPs, it said 147 other healthcare services, ranging from community matrons to physiotherapists, are now using the software.

In Liverpool, matrons who were previously spending six hours per week requesting patients’ data have used Emis Web to slash this to 43 minutes per week.

By the October to December quarter, Emis hopes to be installing Emis Web in 200 practices per month, a “significant acceleration” on its current rate.

Mr Riddell said Emis made good progress on building up infrastructure in 2011 to cope with the roll-out, including recruiting senior managers.

It now employs more than 900 staff, up from 782 at the start of 2011, and expects to end the year with more than 1,000 employees.

More than 700 of these are based in Leeds.

“What we have is some of the best universities in the world,” said Mr Riddell. “We’re in a great place for graduates and a great place for healthcare.

“Leeds is a city of healthcare with the largest teaching hospital in Europe. What you see is a general push for Leeds to become a healthcare hub.

“We get people wanting to work at Emis because they know the difference they can make.”

Emis plans to invest another £400,000 in refurbishing Rawdon House.

It ended 2011 with net cash of £8m, up from £1.7m a year earlier.

Emis was founded in 1987 by North Yorkshire GPs, Dr Peter Sowerby and Dr David Stable, with the aim of computerising patients’ medical records.

The group’s UK market share slipped to 53.1 per cent of GP surgeries – some 5,397 practices – from 53.8 per cent a year earlier.

Mr Riddell said this was down to some consolidation among practices, plus “aggressive sales and marketing” by competitors.

Emis bought the bulk of pharmacy software firm Rx Systems in late 2010. Its market share leapt from 25 per cent of high street pharmacies in 2010 to more than 34 per cent at the end of 2011, some 4,338 practices.

Its patient.co.uk website, which provides medical advice, was relaunched and now has four million unique visitors a month, up from 2.6m a year ago. The site is fronted by Dr Sarah Jarvis, a GP and TV presenter.

“The group is making significant progress towards delivery of our strategic vision of cross-organisational healthcare systems,” said the company.

Emis plans to increase its final dividend 11 per cent to 6.2p per share.