Cerner's Zynx Data sale could end 'proprietary' rap

FRAMINGHAM (03/18/2004) - Two years after purchasing the Zynx Health evidence-based medicine engine from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Cerner Corp. is selling the clinical knowledge base to Hearst Business Media, a unit of communications giant Hearst Communications Inc., the companies said this week. Terms were not disclosed.

Cerner purchased Zynx Health in April 2002 from Cedars-Sinai for US$15 million in cash and $8.5 million in software credits, according to regulatory disclosures. Cerner had been in the process of integrating the Zynx knowledge base into its flagship Millennium clinical, financial, and management information architecture ever since.

However, the Cerner presence made other vendors skittish about integrating Zynx information into their own customersí clinical information systems, according to Cerner officials.

"Thatís why we sold them specifically to a publisher," said Paul Gorup, Cerner's senior vice president of knowledge and discovery. "There was a perception that Zynx was more proprietary to Cerner."

Other industry watchers confirmed this view.

"Being tied to one vendor did not allow them to flourish," Richard Rydell, executive director of the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems, said of Zynx.

Hearst Business Media owns First DataBank, which offers its own electronic reference tools for evidence-based medicine, pharmaceuticals, and nutrition.

Cerner will maintain a relationship with Zynx, reselling order sets and other evidence-based content to its own customers, according to Gorup.

"Optimally, would we want to sell Zynx? No," Gorup said. "The relationship is still very tight. This just allows them to play with other vendors."

Even without Zynx, Cerner owns a number of other decision-support tools, including engines for clinical quality benchmarking, pharmaceuticals, biological surveillance, and outcomes management in acute and critical care. In February, the company acquired Project Impact CCM, a knowledge base for intensive care, from the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

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