IBA Health acquires iSOFT
Interview with Gary Cohen Executive Chairman and CEO of IBA Health
On the first day of Medica, just an hour before their scheduled press conference to explain the future of iSOFT, Gary Cohen of IBA Health spoke with European Hospital.
EH: Can you tell me who IBA is and what you do?
We’re the largest specialised information technology company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. For the past 6 years we’ve been growing strongly. We had business in the UK supplying IT systems to hospitals but we sold this in 2003 to Torex. Since then we have concentrated our market to Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the Middle East and S. Africa where we are either the number one, or one of the leading provider organisations for hospital systems, medication management, and primary care systems. We’ve done this aggressively by acquisitions; we have become a leading provider of connected information between primary care, secondary care and community care. Recently we’ve acquired companies in China and Thailand. So you can see, before we started the bid for iSOFT we were a leading player in our regional market and the Middle East.
EH: What has your relationship with iSOFT been like over the years?
Well as we’re both big players in the Australian market we’ve been talking on and off for years. We’ve had our ups and downs over the years!
EH: How did iSOFT react to your offer to buy them?
When we first contacted iSOFT with an offer before they were for sale they were not interested. When they put themselves up for sale, they still didn’t think that were financially strong enough to buy them. However in February this year we were able to convince the Board of iSOFT that we were an acceptable suitor and a share offer would be the way to go. It wasn’t plain sailing even then, CSC, who were also interested in iSOFT, tried to stop us, but we made it.
EH: It’s a competitive market, do you consider IBA to be in a pole position?
The way IT can be used to improve efficiency or quality of care comes from a variety of sources not only from direct competitors but from the changing shape and form of the product and the solutions. We are in a pole position and it’s rare for an Australian company to be able to do something on the world stage to make a difference. It’s an amazing time to be living there are so many changes to come it’s a thrilling and challenging opportunity for us and our customers.
EH: Is it too soon to ask about your future ideas for products and solutions?
No not at all, we’ve been working on this behind the scenes with the existing management, preparing for the takeover. We’ve had a strategic planning meeting in Bochum, just before Medica for very important reasons. Our largest customer base is in the Netherlands and Germany, here are the early adopters of the Lorenzo solution. I wanted to get a clear message to our leadership team not just mentally but physically that this is where our hearts and minds need to be. Here at Medica they can see what is happening, find our exactly what the customer is thinking, good or bad.
We’ve agreed to expand Lab Centre, one of core products in Germany globally this has a fantastic opportunity in China, Asia and South Africa. We can take products out of Germany to other markets. We are also going to bring our products that connect primary care to the Germany this is the time to do this as the market consolidates. We have products designed for large and complex groups to talk to each other and communicate with the hospitals and interface. This is our expertise it’s what we’re doing today in Australia, Asia and South Africa.
EH: So where is IBA Health going now?
We want to grow, we need investment to bring our products to the market and we’ll need to be acquisitive. We can use our strength and strong balance sheet to make a bigger business in Germany. We are a company that has had the chance of a rebirth, we have had trauma but now we’re strong. There is reparation work to do and we have to do the right things for our customers and we are investing in this. We will get it right for them whether it takes a week, month or two months, we will do it correctly and I’ll make sure it will be successful
EH to Peter Herrmann from iSOFT Germany:
How does it feel from your side?
We’ve known for over a year that something would happen to iSOFT. The uncertainty has been unsettling for all of us; our existing and potential customers, our staff. I’m glad the procedure is over and I am very happy to see Gary and the team’s commitment to the market, to our customers and to the development of Lorenzo. These are all good messages to bring.