Jim Cramer: If Epic doesn't want to sell, maybe Apple should look at Cerner

Julie Spitzer - Print  | 

CNBC's Jim Cramer has revisited his suggestion that Apple should buy Verona, Wis.-based health records company Epic amid a flood of feedback.

"Turns out that story was a lot more provocative than I actually anticipated," Mr. Cramer said Jan. 23, according to CNBC. "It's kind of exactly what I was going for, though. The whole point was to start a discussion, to figure out how Apple's stock can get its mojo back and possibly put its technology to work to revolutionize and innovate the healthcare industry on behalf of you, the customer."

Six things to know:

1. Mr. Cramer, the host of CNBC's "Mad Money," said Jan. 16 that it's time for Apple "to make a big, splashy acquisition ... in the software space. The idea here is that this would make [Apple's] service revenue stream a larger piece of the pie."

2. Mr. Cramer then suggested EHR vendor Epic would be an ideal purchase for Apple.

"If Apple wants to become the universal electronic health records provider, to be the handshake between, say, the [Apple] Watch's data and the [EHR] system, they're going to need to break into this market big, and the best way to do that is by acquiring the best: Epic," he said during his segment Jan. 16.

3. The comments spurred conversation on Twitter, as consumers, investors and journalists responded to the suggestion. Many Twitter users discussed Epic CEO Judy Faulkner and her well-known stance of never wanting take Epic public or allow the company to be acquired.

"Epic is not for sale — I have had a number of conversations with Judy Faulkner on the future of Epic and a sale to a for-profit company is completely out of the question. The plan is to turn the company ownership over to a non-profit foundation controlled by senior employees," one Twitter user noted.

4. A key argument against an Apple-Epic venture is patient privacy. Consumers expressed concerns over Apple's privacy practices as a major tech giant, and added that Epic highly values protecting its clients' data. Mr. Cramer, however, refuted those concerns.

"I get where this is coming from, but I think this criticism is way off-base," he said. "Sooner or later, some gigantic tech company will make itself into a repository for medical records that's compatible with the many different software systems used by doctors and hospitals. [...] Apple seems like the obvious and logical choice."

5. In his Jan. 23 response to the backlash, Mr. Cramer noted that Apple could instead pursue Epic's competitor, Cerner.

"Let's not miss the forest for the trees here. Epic doesn't want to sell? OK, fine. Then Apple should go buy their biggest competitor, Cerner, a publicly traded company worth $17 billion. The point is that they could revolutionize the electronic medical records space and give their own service business a major boost."

6. Mr. Cramer said that "Apple is uniquely positioned to revolutionize the electronic health records business," regardless of whether it pursues an acquisition.

"They could make an acquisition like Epic — yes, if Judy would sell — or Cerner, they could build out their own system, they could focus purely on the iPhone as a repository of data," he said. "There are a lot of ways to approach this, and I think any of them would be a win for both patients and for Apple's shareholders, and it's a huge cudgel against those who claim that Apple no longer innovates. That's hogwash. If coming up with a brand new device that can save millions of lives isn't innovation, what the heck is?"

Click here to for the full CNBC article.

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