Competition & Markets Authority
Healthcare deal could lead to higher costs for NHS
Deal to combine healthcare tech and data specialists could lead to lower quality and more expensive software options for the NHS.
An initial investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has found UnitedHealth’s £1.2bn deal to buy EMIS could reduce competition leading to worse outcomes for the NHS and ultimately patients and UK taxpayers.
The NHS is increasingly seeking digital and data-driven solutions to help improve the delivery of healthcare in the UK. EMIS is a large and established supplier of data management systems to the NHS. This includes supplying the electronic patient record system used by the majority of NHS GPs in the UK. Optum, part of the US healthcare giant UnitedHealth, currently supplies software used by GPs when prescribing medicines, as well as data analytics and advisory services that the NHS uses to help improve overall healthcare and health service provision (Population Health Management).
As part of its Phase 1 investigation the CMA looked into these services and how UnitedHealth’s purchase of EMIS may impact competition to develop and supply digital and data analytics products to the NHS.
The investigation found competition could be substantially reduced specifically in the Population Health Management and medicines optimisation software markets (which enable the safe and effective use of medicines).
The CMA is concerned the deal could impact services provided by Optum’s competitors. Optum and its competitors rely on digital connections to the data that EMIS holds, and integrations with EMIS’s electronic patient record system. Optum could, if the merger went ahead as planned, choose to limit these connections and the CMA believes this could unfairly undermine competing businesses. The NHS, as the customer of these products, could then face fewer options, and higher prices or lower quality offerings.
Sorcha O’Carroll, Senior Mergers Director at the CMA, said:
The NHS and the millions of patients under its care depend on critical behind-the-scenes technology to ensure people are looked after and receive the treatment needed to get better.
This deal could see the NHS lose out on the benefits of competition, including innovation in these products and services and getting better value for money. UnitedHealth has the opportunity to address our concerns, otherwise it will progress to a more in-depth investigation.
UnitedHealth and EMIS have 5 working days to offer legally binding proposals to the CMA to address the concerns identified. The CMA would then have a further 5 working days to consider whether this address its concerns, or if the case should be referred to the next stage, Phase 2 investigation.
More information can be found via the Optum / EMIS case page.
Notes to Editors
- Optum is part of United Health Group Incorporated. EMIS Group Plc is based in the UK.
- The CMA’s Phase 1 investigation started on 20 January 2023 after the companies announced the acquisition in 2022.
- The CMA is, in most cases, required to issue a Phase 1 decision within 40 working days. Merging parties are required to formally offer proposed remedies (undertakings in lieu of a referral to a Phase 2 investigation (UILs)) within 5 working days after receiving the CMA’s Phase 1 decision and the CMA then decides, within 10 working days after the Phase 1 decision, whether to provisionally accept the UILs offered. The CMA then has 50 working days (subject to an extension of up to 40 working days) to consider whether to finally accept these remedies.
- A further explanation of what Population Health Management can be found on the NHS website.
- For more information, journalists should contact the CMA press office by email on email@example.com or by phone on 020 3738 6460.
- All enquiries from the general public are directed to the CMA’s General Enquiries team on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 3738 6000.
Original article link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/healthcare-deal-could-lead-to-higher-costs-for-nhs
Latest News from
Competition & Markets Authority
Supermarket petrol station merger could increase prices for motorists and shoppers14/03/2023 12:05:00
CMA investigation finds Asda’s purchase of 132 petrol stations and attached grocery stores from the Co-op could mean higher prices or less choice for motorists or shoppers in 13 areas.
CMA launches investigation into fragrances and fragrance ingredients08/03/2023 09:10:00
The CMA has launched an investigation into suspected anti-competitive conduct in relation to the supply of fragrances and fragrance ingredients.
Merger could mean costlier and lower quality inspections for food industry07/03/2023 10:25:00
CMA’s investigation into Eville & Jones’ acquisition of Vorenta has raised competition concerns in the provision of various veterinary public health inspections.
CMA provisionally clears satellite comms deal following in-depth review01/03/2023 11:25:00
The decision comes after a Phase 2 review revealed Viasat and Inmarsat will likely face significant competition from both emerging and established players as the sector expands.
New guidance to help businesses co-operate on environment28/02/2023 14:25:00
New draft guidance published by the CMA will help businesses work together with confidence towards achieving environmental goals.
Home building and renting probed to help buyers and tenants28/02/2023 11:10:00
The CMA has launched a market study into housebuilding and a separate project considering consumer rights for those in rented homes.
Experts appointed as UK looks to level digital playing field for consumers24/02/2023 09:20:00
Leaders from competition, academia and industry brought in to advise the CMA as it prepares for new powers to oversee digital markets
First internal market report finds proposed peat ban does not raise major concerns for businesses21/02/2023 13:10:00
The OIM has published its first report, which found that the UK Government’s proposal to ban the sale of horticultural peat in England from 2024 would not have a major impact on intra-UK trade.