LDM Group/PDR merger should power up the EHR marketing channel

Pharma-supported messages can help healthcare providers meet 'meaningful use' requirements

The rapidly evolving electronic health records (EHR, or, in medical circles EMR) arena will be getting more clarity from a merger engineered by the private equity firm, Lee Equity Partners, which has brought one of its investments, PDR Network (Montvale, NJ) together with LDM Group (St. Louis). Both companies have striven to make collaborative relationships with EHR vendors and e-prescribing systems (which are rapidly becoming synonymous); now they will pool their respective user base of upwards of 250,000 prescribers. Mark Heinold will be CEO of the new company, to be known simply as PDR; Richard Altus, former CEO of PDR Network, is joining Lee Equity as an advisor.

LDM, a 10-year old company, started out with pharma-supported messaging to pharmacies on patient education and adherence, says Heinold; currently, it has a network of 16,000 pharmacies—mostly independents—that it connects with. Along the way, the company began working with EHR vendors, some of whom are open to sponsored messaging, thereby reaching prescribers. PDR Network began years ago as a collaboration among medical societies to deliver FDA warning letters and similar communications; along the way, it bought the longstanding Physician’s Desk Reference business, and most recently opened a business unit, 4th Channel, for promotional messaging.

Heinold, who says that “this business has been growing 30% per year, and will continue to do for the next several years,” says that while some EHR vendors have resisted allowing promotional or education messaging into their systems, they are opening up because the educational and patient-followup aspects help healthcare providers meet the “meaningful use” rules of HHS, which has been funding the purchase of EHR systems by providers. Interoperabiilty among the hundreds of EHR vendors is an ongoing problem, but in fact, says Heinold, PDR’s network provides some degree of constancy across EHR systems. “The interoperability issue will get fixed,” he says.

From a pharma perspective, the evolution of the EHR channel comes just as the proportion of “no see” physicians (who are barred from in-person visits from pharma reps) reaches something of a tipping point. The need for reliable drug information remains, but the means of conveying it to physicians will depend on how well the EHR channel opens up.