Med-tech is off to a bold start this year with a hot acquisition, which will serve to consolidate the market.

Epocrates Inc., a medical applications company based in Silicon Valley, is being scooped up by AthenaHealth for $293 million. According to a company press release, AthenaHealth will pay $11.75 per share, a 22 percent premium to Epocrates’ Friday closing price.

Massachusetts-based AthenaHealth provides cloud-based services and tools to doctors and hospitals. The company faces fierce competition from Siemens Medical Solutions USA, Inc., Quality Systems, as well as Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, which is retooling after a protracted drama with its board. 

Epocrates is an attractive prospect for AthenaHealth, as it has built up brand-name recognition with doctors. AthenaHealth estimates that it is has been used by 338,000 U.S. physicians to pull up short summaries on drugs, including information about side effects and interactions.

“Capturing mindshare has been an uphill battle for Athena for years, and the addition of Epocrates to the platform is a step in the right direction,” said Greg Bolan, an analyst with Sterne Agee & Leach Inc, in an e-mail interview with Bloomberg.

The acquisition will help the company gain an iPhone app and expand into the lucrative electronic medical records (EMR) market.

“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,” said Jonathan Bush, the president and CEO of AthenaHealth in a statement. “Together, we’re excited by the opportunity to redefine the mobile toolset for care givers,” he added.

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