Software and cloud services provider Oracle Corp. said today it agreed to buy Cerner Corp., a provider of digital information systems for the health care provider market, in a deal valued at $28 billion.

Cerner is well known in the Federal government marketplace for its electronic health records (EHR) technology projects at the Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs.  On the DoD front, Cerner is one of several companies involved in the development of the MHS Genesis EHR system under the umbrella of the Leidos Partnership for Defense Health.

At the VA, Cerner won a $10 billion contract in 2018 to help create an interoperable EHR system for the agency. The system launched in late 2020, but has had a somewhat rocky rollout across VA facilities since then, along with plenty of concern from members of Congress directed at VA officials about cost overruns and initial reviews from VA employees about how the new system is working.

VA said earlier this month that it is adding two new senior positions to its EHR modernization program to help mitigate some challenges with rolling out the new technology further across agency facilities.

In announcing the acquisition agreement today, Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison said the deal expands the company’s mission “to assume the responsibility to provide our overworked medical professionals with a new generation of easier-to-use digital tools that enable access to information via a hands-free voice interface to secure cloud applications.”

“This new generation of medical information systems promises to lower the administrative workload burdening our medical professionals, improve patient privacy and outcomes, and lower overall healthcare costs,” he added.

“Cerner has been a leader in helping digitize medical care and now it’s time to realize the real promise of that work with the care delivery tools that get information to the right caregivers at the right time,” David Feinberg, Cerner’s chief executive officer, said.

“Oracle’s Autonomous Database, low-code development tools, and Voice Digital Assistant user interface enables us to rapidly modernize Cerner’s systems and move them to our Gen2 Cloud,” Mike Sicilia, executive vice president-vertical industries at Oracle, commented.

“This can be done very quickly because Cerner’s largest business and most important clinical system already runs on the Oracle Database,” he said. “No change required there. What will change is the user interface. We will make Cerner’s systems much easier to learn and use by making Oracle’s hands-free Voice Digital Assistant the primary interface to Cerner’s clinical systems. This will allow medical professionals to spend less time typing on computer keyboards and more time caring for patients.”

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.