Apple should buy Athenahealth to expand in health care: Citigroup

Key Points
  • Analyst: Apple should buy Athenahealth as it explores ways to enter the health care market.
  • CNBC reported on Wednesday that Apple is looking for ways to turn the iPhone into a centralized repository for medical information.
Tim Cook
Sally Shin | CNBC

As Apple moves into health care, it's acquired a few small start-ups.

Now, Citigroup analyst Garen Sarafian is recommending that the company scoop up a far larger player in health technology: Athenahealth.

Even with a market capitalization of close to $6 billion, the purchase would make sense, Sarafian wrote in a note to clients, as it could help Apple solve one of the biggest's issues in health care -- the interoperable exchange of medical data.

Sarafian's analysis followed a report on Wednesday from CNBC that Apple is looking to turn the iPhone into the central bank for patient health information.

Apple has more than 1 billion iPhone users but limited access to clinical systems that capture data in hospitals. Meanwhile, according to Sarafian, Athenahealth offers access to around 83 million patient records and has a track record of integrating with clinical IT systems like Epic and Cerner. The company also has access to a network of about half of all U.S. doctors through its mobile health app Epocrates.

Sarafian has a "buy" recommendation on Athenahealth.