Athena Health: It all went wrong

  • Private equity firm Veritas Capital and hedge fund Elliott Management have agreed to acquire U.S. healthcare software maker Athenahealth for $5.5 billion in cash.
  • Layoffs are sure to follow.
  • HCP’s are not fond of Atenahealth’s cumbersome software.

About six years ago I interviewed with Athenahealth and what I saw scared me.  I saw firsthand employees who had too much work, managers who didn’t care about their people and a work environment that was more reminiscent of a warehouse than an office.

In research with HCP’s I heard that they didn’t like Athenahealth’s software because it wasn’t user friendly and updates often took a long time to install and learn.  Now it seems the EHR software company is being sold to a VC group who is only interested in making money from the companies they acquire.  People at Athenahealth should be scared, very scared.

When it comes to EHR’s Atenahealth has let the industry down.  Its software is overly complicated and the HCP’s I talk to hate it and believe it costs too much.  The EHR market is ripe for disruption as patients want ONE online medical record that follows them from doctor to doctor.  They want easy logins and intuitive navigation all of which Athenahealth doesn’t offer.

What I witnessed when I interviewed there was scary.  I look for people who are excited by what they do and love their work.  What I witnesses were stressed out people who often worked 12 hour workdays not to mention that their location outside Boston was in a really congested, high traffic area.

Despite all this there is hope.  Athenahealth very much needs a visionary leader who can raise morale and focus on what’s best for customers not them.  They need simplicity and a way to ensure that their product is viewed as the best within the industry.  It’s going to take work, but unless they get it right there are a lot of other disruptors just waiting to take away their business.