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.