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Acquisition of Windhover strengthens Elsevier’s position in online health care information markets

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Elsevier’s acquisition last week of Windhover Information is the latest in a string of acquisitions designed to boost the media company’s position in the online health care services market.

Windhover, which provides information on the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, will operate within Elsevier’s Pharma Business Intelligence Unit, which includes F-D-C Report, which tracks new drug approvals and provides specialized coverage of the medical device, diagnostic and instrumentation industries, and Inteleos, a drug development database. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We needed to broaden the content and go beyond the F-D-C,” said Brian Nairn, CEO of Elsevier Health Sciences, a subsidiary of Anglo-Dutch publishing giant Reed Elsevier. Elsevier publishes more than 700 medical journals; its major properties include Lancet Web sites Embase.com and Science Direct.

“We’re acquiring content that expands our usefulness [online] and gets us closer to pharmaceutical marketing,” Nairn said.

Morris Levitt, managing director, life sciences, of media investment bank DeSilva & Phillips, said Elsevier’s ongoing acquisition strategy is “two sides of the coin” as it pertains to Reed Elsevier’s recent decision to put its print-heavy Reed Business Information portfolio on the block. “Clearly, Reed doesn’t see a great future for RBI,” he said. “At the same time they see value in health care information services and are being aggressive in investing in that area.”

Levitt added: “As things evolve in an electronic direction,they have to diversify and can’t rely on an old stable of print journals, which nevertheless remains a strong business.”

Elsevier’s acquisition of Windhover comes on the heels of several similar deals that strengthen the publisher’s position in clinical reference and clinical decision support tools, two areas that are critical to the delivery of health care.

In January Elsevier acquired MEDai Inc., a predictive analysis company that analyzes health care claims, and in December it bought CPM Resource Center, which provides nursing care plans. Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Nairn said a key component of Elsevier’s acquisition strategy is to build interactive tools that complement the acquired property. “We’re big believers in the idea of combining acquisition and organic development,” he said

For example, in 2006 Elsevier acquired Health Education Systems, a review and testing company for nursing students. It proceeded to add to it interactive tool called Evolve-Reach, which identifies content areas in which nursing students may be weak.

In 2005 Elsevier acquired MC Strategies, an online health care training company based in Atlanta, and subsequently added Mosby Nursing Skills, an online competency development tool.

“We’re moving content from being referenced in a book to providing content that will play in the workplace, at physician stations, nursing stations or within a hospital information system,” Nairn said. He added that Elsevier will continue to be in an acquisitive mode in areas of health care “where we see the potential to accelerate technology development.”

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