Getty Images/iStockphoto

EHR Vendor Cerner Eyes Developing a $1 Billion Data Business

Cerner exceeded its data business goals in 2020 and is looking to explode in 2021 and beyond.

For the last 18 months, Cerner has focused on developing a category-defining data business and as the company continues to attack that sector, the EHR vendor executives said they are striving towards building a $1 billion data business.

Cerner executives joined the 39th Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference to look back at its 2020 accomplishments during COVID-19 and what the vendor is working on for 2021.

With Cerner EHRs implemented in one-third of US hospitals, the vendor believes it can bring compelling points of differentiation when it comes to a data-based strategy.

“We think that the profile of our client base is particularly differentiated, including the fact that we have a high density of community hospitals and health systems that don't traditionally have an opportunity to participate in clinical trial activity,” said Donald Trigg, president of Cerner.

“Then we have multi-decades of experience really dealing with the complexities of health care data from a master data management perspective as well as the tech enablement strategies required to leverage those insights within the provider health system.”

Trigg and Marc Naughton, executive vice president and CFO of the company, pointed at its December 2020 acquisition of Kantar Health, for $375 million, in an attempt to advance clinical trials.

“We're excited about this acquisition,” Trigg said. “We think it's on strategy. It meets our market criteria for entry. In terms of representing a large and mega trend around [real-world evidence] RWE, a large and growing addressable market, 20-plus percent growth from an RWE perspective and the kinds of opportunities that we're looking for, for EMR agnostic, high-growth and high-margin businesses in this space.”

Kantar Health is a data, analytics, and real-world evidence (RWE) consultancy. It is known for its broader oncology, rare disease, and multi-therapeutic expertise. Cerner and Kantar Health expect to enable a two-way collaboration between providers and the pharmaceutical industry, aiming to allow researchers to address complex clinical questions with RWE.

“I think that was a critical element to showing that we are serious about our data business, and we will use both organic and inorganic growth paths to deliver that business,” Naughton said about the acquisition.

Furthermore, the Kantar acquisition aims to allow Cerner’s Learning Health Network partners to engage more directly with life sciences companies about funded clinical trials, the company said at the conference. Learning Health Network aims to help clinicians utilize EHR data insights to boost patient care.

Before 2020, the vendor set a goal to have 40 Learning Health Network members. But Trigg said it exceeded their goal by completing the year with 55 members that represent roughly 100 million patients and over 500 million encounters.

“We did some things both before COVID with partnership strategies to engage with life sciences and pharma and prove out the value proposition of the Learning Health Network,” Trigg said. “We also stood up a free data -- COVID data cohort with AWS, which has really seen some best-in-class research and peer-reviewed research around COVID that we think proves out the power of the clinical data but also proves out the after-COVID opportunity for this data asset.”

Looking forward, Cerner wants to tackle the data discovery process and see why it currently takes too long and costs too much. Furthermore, it wants to dive into combining native build, partner, invest, and acquisition strategies to feature around that approach.

“We think all of that sets us up very well before COVID, during COVID, and as we look out after COVID to really play a defining role in transforming the speed and cost of clinical trials and building a $1 billion data business,” Trigg concluded.

Dig Deeper on Health IT infrastructure

Cloud Computing
Mobile Computing