The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally approved UnitedHealth’s £1.2bn deal to acquire EMIS, a UK-based healthcare technology firm, following an in-depth investigation.

According to the CMA, UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is actively pursuing digital and data-driven solutions to help improve the delivery of healthcare in the country.

EMIS is engaged in providing data management systems to the NHS, including the electronic patient record system used by the majority of NHS general practitioners (GPs) in the UK.

Optum, a healthcare company of UnitedHealth, currently provides software used by GPs, for prescribing medicines, along with data analytics and advisory services.

CMA noted that the two combining companies do not supply competing services.

Also, Optum and its competitors use the data that EMIS holds and integrate their own software with EMIS’s electronic patient record system to compete in other markets.

In June last year, Optum signed an agreement to acquire healthcare software provider EMIS for a total consideration of $1.5bn.

In January 2023, CMA announced its Phase 1 investigation into the proposed merger.

The CMA Phase 1 investigation identified initial concerns that the proposed business combination would risk worse outcomes for the NHS by reducing competition.

The UK competition watchdog referred for a more detailed Phase 2 investigation, in March 2023.

The Phase 2 investigation, overseen by an independent panel, has now provisionally found the merger does not raise competition concerns.

Independent inquiry panel chair Kirstin Baker said: “Digital technology and data analytics play an increasingly important role in supporting high-quality healthcare in the NHS and so it’s important we investigate this deal thoroughly.

“We want to ensure the NHS continues to benefit from innovation and efficiencies brought about by technology services competing for its business.

“After carefully considering a broad range of evidence, we have provisionally found that this deal is not expected to harm competition or adversely affect patients.”