Allcripts execs stress stability

August 23, 2013 in Medical Technology

Allscripts President and CEO Paul M. Black, hired in December 2012 to rescue the troubled EHR vendor, and other company executives sounded defensive and optimistic notes this week as they attempt to regain the confidence of customers, investors and health IT industry analysts.

“From a company standpoint, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Allscripts,” Black said Wednesday at the annual Allscripts Client Experience users’ conference – better known as ACE – which drew about 5,000 people to Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center. However, he acknowledged the tough task ahead of him for a company that reported a net loss of nearly $23 million for the three months ended June 30, the third consecutive negative quarter.

“We’re trying to settle down, stabilize and focus on what’s important,” Black said, who added that he often gets asked about the financial state of the company.

CFO Rick Poulton, on the job since last October, echoed Black’s sentiments, saying his “mantra” for 2013 was stability, confidence and momentum. Poulton criticized the financial press for negative stories, and said that Allscripts is investing $500 million in research and development this year, 35 percent above last year’s level.

[See also: Tullman out at Allscripts, Black in.]

“Investments do affect PL in the short term,” Poulton said. He added that the current cash reserve of $437 million was the “greatest in company history.” Allscripts’ stock price has been hovering around $15 this week, up from a bottom of $8.85 on Dec. 20, 2012, the day after longtime CEO Glen Tullman and President Lee Shapiro were forced out.

According to Black, 33,848 institutions and professionals had attested to Stage 1 meaningful use on an Allscripts EHR, second only to Epic Systems. Data from CMS supports this claim. However, As the client conference opened, competitor Practice Fusion issued a press release saying that it had won over more customers from Allscripts than from any other company.

[See also: My first 100 days as Allscripts CEO.]

Black, who said he initially didn’t want the job to revive Allscripts, listed five development priorities for the company: getting ready for meaningful use Stage 2; helping customers switch to ICD-10 coding by the federal October 2014 deadline; systems integration; the next round of software upgrades; and innovation. There will be additional focus on “high-quality MU2 releases,” integration of recent purchases of dbMotion and FollowMyHealth technology, innovation in mobility and analytics, improved quality assurance in software testing and a focus on international clients, Black added.

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