Athenahealth, an electronic health records firm, agrees to buy Epocrates for $293m

Athenahealth Inc., a Watertown company that provides electronic record and billing systems to hospitals and other medical industry clients, said it has agreed to buy Epocrates Inc., which has developed point-of-care medical applications that about 330,000 doctors use as reference tools, in many cases on their iPhones.

For example, one Epocrates app is a drug interaction tool that allows a doctor to check whether a medication they plan to prescribe interferes with a medication that their patient is already taking, Athenahealth said.

The companies’ boards of directors have agreed to a price of $11.75 per share, in cash, for an aggregate purchase price of about $293 million; the purchase price represents a 22 percent premium over Friday’s closing price for Epocrates shares on NASDAQ, Athenahealth said in a press release. The transaction is expected to close early in the second quarter, Athenahealth said.

File photo of Athenaheath’s Jonathan Bush. (Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff)

With the acquisition of Epocrates, Athenahealth said it believes it will be able to better serve an expanded network of providers. Athenahealth added that it plans to build upon Epocrates’ efforts in transforming the way doctors access and engage with clinical information, with one another, and with their patients.

“I have been an admirer of Epocrates since it first emerged and have watched the company grow consistently, one app download at a time, as it has cemented itself into the consciousness of America’s physicians,” Jonathan Bush, Athenahealth’s president, chairman, and chief executive, said in a statement. “No other company has been able to replicate the brand awareness, familiarity, and trust that Epocrates has across the clinical mobile user base.”

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