The news was a surprise for many in the healthcare IT sector: on June 1, 2021, VISUS Health IT GmbH (VISUS) and CompuGroup Medical (CGM) announced that they would like to shape the future of the sector together. To this end, CGM purchased 100 percent of the shares of VISUS Health IT GmbH including its subsidiaries in Germany and Switzerland. As surprising as the announcement was, the merger had been carefully and meticulously planned in the preceding months. All those involved will now reap the full benefits of this thorough groundwork: customers, partners and the employees of both companies. In the interview the managing director of VISUS Health IT GmbH explains the reasons for this step, the future collaboration with customers, and the shared strategy for the future.
Many market players, particularly the customers of VISUS, could barely believe their eyes and ears when the merger was announced. That an economically successful and technically innovative company like VISUS would be acquired by one of the most important players in the sector was not seen coming. What happened and why so suddenly?
Thomas Simon: The public perception that this is an ad-hoc move is not the issue itself but comes down to the company structure of CGM: As a public limited company we are subject to extremely stringent confidentiality regulations and any speculation about a merger has potential impacts on the market price. As much as we would have liked to speak to customers, partners, and employees much earlier, legally it was simply not possible.
Klaus Kleber: We considered the step in depth. As founder and managing director of VISUS, Jörg Holstein and I had already received a number of offers over the years for the acquisition of the company, some of which were quite lucrative. However, the motivation for the acquisition, the underlying business model, and the philosophy of the interested parties were never a match. It was always clear to us: if we sell, then only if the VISUS spirit is retained. And with it our company values, our mission, and our vision. To put it plainly: only if we remained as VISUS at the Bochum site with all employees and customers as an independent unit.
And then along came CGM and expressed interest. A company that has actively shaped the healthcare IT market for many years, providing diverse solutions for all sectors while maintaining an extremely agile, innovative, and fair company culture with a business location based in Germany—it would have been negligent to let this opportunity pass by.
Is the condition for the independence of VISUS then truly satisfied?
Guido Bötticher: Yes, absolutely. The company headquarters at Health Campus Bochum will not only remain but will be expanded. There will not be any reshuffle and all colleagues will continue to work as before. The corporate identity will also remain unchanged with VISUS staying orange, JiveX will stay JiveX. Our customers will still have the same contacts in the company. Another message that is very important to me: Nothing will change with the VISUS partnerships, both national and international. We will continue to evaluate our collaboration with complementary companies in projects to identify the best solution for a specific customer. There will be complete openness of ideas and actions.
Thomas Simon: Quite the opposite. VISUS was also such an attractive company for CGM because its network of partners is truly outstanding. We would like to learn the conditions and structures necessary for this and, where appropriate, apply them to the CGM portfolio.
What else about VISUS excited CGM?
Thomas Simon: VISUS has undergone enormous development over the last 20 years. The ability to identify trends and to appreciate developments in healthcare and convert them to bits and bytes is unique. Nowadays, hardly any providers of hospital IT go past VISUS in their daily tasks. Subjects such as data consolidation with JiveX Healthcare Content Management, the highly systematic use of standards, the pervasive networking concept, and the drive to build bridges to other worlds with JiveX Healthcare Connect are nowadays crucial for the quality of care.
CGM for its part also has excellent technologies and shares the passion for interoperability. And it has something that VISUS does not: strong solutions for all sectors—hospitals, medical, dental, and psychotherapy practices, pharmacies, etc. And of course, the strong link with the teleinformatics infrastructure. Both fit perfectly with the networking and patient empowerment concepts of VISUS. The synergy between the portfolios could not have been thought out more efficiently on the drawing board.
How do VISUS customers benefit from this “marriage”?
Guido Bötticher: Thomas said it already: the expertise and the technology complement one another perfectly. What we must not forget is that the market for healthcare IT is moving along at a never before seen speed. Every company must pay careful attention to ensure they do not go off course. And with everything new that we are bombarded by, we can nevertheless identify a trend: the technologies must connect to one another, information must flow. Hospitals must build closed information cycles that have defined interfaces for outward communication. This does not mean that we will move back toward monolithic systems. The opposite. It means that IT solutions must perfectly complement one another and be able to interact with one another. System boundaries will disappear. This is apparent not least with the subsidies provided by the German Hospital Future Act. We are now equipped for this and we look forward to being able to even better equip our customers for economic success in future.
Klaus Kleber: I see additional benefits that have less to do with the technology and more to do with the people who are associated with us. A company that has grown to a good 200 employees under its own steam and in a healthy way inevitably reaches a fork in the road with two possible paths. One points toward “conservation”, the other toward “transformation”. We opted for transformation in a larger context so that both our customers and our employees have to opportunity to continue evolving. This enables us to be able to set the course for sustainably undertaking the necessary investments for international healthcare systems that are constantly changing. I am convinced we are heading in the right direction. The journey may appear a little rocky in some places but it is in no way a dead end, instead it is our path to success.
Within CompuGroup Medical, VISUS will in future come under the “CGM Hospital Information Systems (HIS)” business group. The businesses will be managed with immediate effect by Klaus Kleber (Chief Technology Officer VISUS), Guido Bötticher (General Manager VISUS), and Thomas Simon (Senior Vice President Clinical DE-CH at CGM).