E-prescription will be just what the doctor ordered

9 Jan 2007

Systems Solutions and Medicom are to begin development of an electronic prescription system in Ireland, siliconrepublic.com has learned. This follows the merger of the two companies.

Under the terms of the deal, Systems Solutions is to acquire a majority stake in Medicom by buying out its two principal shareholders, Bank of Ireland Venture Capital and Davy Stockbrokers. Systems Solutions is funding the deal through a combination of its own cash reserves and financing from Anglo Irish Bank. The value of the deal has not been disclosed.

The transaction is being called a merger because some Medicom shareholders are to remain with the new company, including CEO Howard Beggs who will become chief executive of the expanded operation.

Combined, the new entity will employ more than 100 people with combined annual revenues of €10m and a valuation of more than €20m. All members of staff are to be based at Systems Solutions’ headquarters in Tallaght.

The company plans to invest more than €750,000 a year in research and development on foot of the deal. Over the coming year a key focus will be to develop an electronic prescription system. According to David Raethorne, chief technology officer and founder of Systems Solutions, this will help to eliminate errors in prescriptions between when a patient first consults their doctor and then goes to the pharmacy to collect the medicine they have been prescribed.

The company is to set up a clinical advisory board involving the various stakeholders in such a project. “They can direct the company as to how best to apply the technology,” he said. “We don’t have a definitive plan for delivering electronic prescriptions yet but we have the different technologies to do it.”

As this project would potentially involve sharing information between various combinations of doctors, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and pharmacies, complying with data protection law is very important, Raethorne said.

He confirmed that the intention is to begin delivering such a system this year. “You’ll see electronic prescriptions in some form within six months,” he told siliconrepublic.com. Raethorne added that the company wants to implement such a system using open standards so that doctors or chemists using competitors’ software would also be able to use electronic prescriptions. “We would need to get buy-in from the HSE and others,” he pointed out.

Systems Solutions is well established in the health sector, having been founded 20 years ago to develop pharmacy management software. Its technology is used in 65pc of Irish pharmacies and it has a share of the UK pharmacy market thanks to a contract it secured with Boots’ 1,400 chemist stores.

Medicom was set up in 1995 and provides professional support in quality and regulatory affairs management to the Medical Device, Diagnostic, Biological, and Pharmaceutical Industries. It has a 60pc share of the GP and private consultant market in Ireland.

In recent years the company became involved in an extensive project with BT Ireland to provide managed technology services to GPs around the country which is intended to free them up from IT administration tasks to spend more time with patients. It’s thought that this service could also be extended to the pharmacy sector as a result of the merger.

By Gordon Smith