Athena has large presence in Belfast

Jonathan Bush resigns from CEO position at athenahealth, company considers sale

Posted:  Wednesday, June 6, 2018 - 9:45am

WATERTOWN, Mass. — Effective immediately, Jonathan Bush stepped down as president, CEO and director of athenahealth, the company announced June 6. The Watertown, Mass.–based company, which has offices in Belfast, has appointed Jeff Immelt as executive chairman.

The company also said June 6 that is is considering a sale, “merger or other transaction involving the Company as well as continuing as an independent company,” according to a news release.

The provider of network-enabled services for hospital and ambulatory customers said: “in parallel to having discussions with third parties regarding a potential business combination, the athenahealth Board has initiated a search process to identify qualified CEO candidates.  The Board's strategic exploration process is designed to maximize shareholder value and better position athenahealth to capitalize on its premier healthcare technology platform.”

The corporate shake up follows published news accounts that he “he issued an apology following a report in U.K.’s Daily Mail newspaper that he had assaulted his former wife 14 years ago,” according to Reuters.

Bush founded athenahealth in 1997.  He is a nephew of  former president U.S. President George H.W. Bush. 

Athenahealth (NASDAQ: ATHN) has more than 5,000 employees, and its corporate model is to partner with hospital and ambulatory clients, offering medical record, revenue cycle, patient engagement, care coordination, and population health services. Its network includes approximately 106,000 providers, with a total of 102 million patients.

In Belfast, the number of employees working at the former MBNA call center is approximately 900, according to reports.

Jeff Immelt, chairman of athenahealth, has been appointed executive chairman; Marc Levine, executive vice president, chief financial officer, chief accounting officer and treasurer, will assume greater day-to-day operational responsibilities and oversight; and current Board member Amy Abernethy, M.D., Ph.D., will be advising the Executive Leadership Team on data strategy within her role as a director.

“The Board's strategic exploration process is designed to maximize shareholder value and better position athenahealth to capitalize on its premier healthcare technology platform,” the company’s new release said.

Today, its stock rose 5.4 percent toward a 17th-month high, following the company’s news.

In mid-October 2017, athena had announced it was planning to trim its workforce by 9 percent.


In the June 6 release, Immelt said: "On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Jonathan for guiding athenahealth to this point and for building an incredible team, which is deeply focused on our clients and on driving disruptive, positive change across the healthcare industry.  The Board and Jonathan agree that this change in leadership is appropriate as athenahealth turns to its next chapter." 

Bush said: "I believe that working for something larger than yourself is the greatest thing a human can do.  A family, a cause, a company, a country – these things give shape and purpose to an otherwise mechanical and brief human existence. athenahealth is a near once in a life time example of such a thing. With that lens on, it's easy for me to see that the very things that made me useful to the Company and cause in these past twenty-one years, are now exactly the things that are in the way. I cannot imagine a single organization more loaded with potential to transform healthcare."

The release continued:

Lazard and Centerview Partners are acting as the Company's financial advisors, and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is legal counsel to the Company. A leading executive search firm has been retained to assist with the CEO search process.

There can be no assurance that the review being undertaken will result in a merger, sale or other business combination involving the Company. athenahealth does not intend to make further announcements regarding the review unless and until the Board has approved a specific transaction or other course of action requiring disclosure.
Immelt was Chairman and CEO of GE from 2001 to 2017. During that time he focused on growth and creating new disruptive technologies. GE became a more global, technology leader with record market share in essential industries. He was also one of the first CEOs to recognize great industrial companies must be digital leaders.

Immelt earned a B.A. degree in applied mathematics from Dartmouth College in 1978 and an M.B.A. from Harvard University in 1982.

Amy Abernethy, M.D., Ph.D. has served as a member of the athenahealth Board of Directors since October 2013.

Since July 2014, Abernethy has served as chief medical officer, chief scientific officer and senior vice president of oncology at Flatiron Health, Inc., a healthcare technology company that is a member of the Roche Group. Before joining Flatiron, she was a professor of medicine in the Duke University School of Medicine from November 2008 to July 2015 and ran the Center for Learning Health Care in the Duke Clinical Research Institute from March 2012 to July 2015. She was also director of the Duke Cancer Care Research Program in the Duke Cancer Institute between 2008 and 2015. She also holds the title of adjunct professor of medicine in the Duke University School of Medicine, and previously held a number of progressive faculty and clinical roles at Duke University and Flinders University of South Australia.

Abernethy received her B.A. in biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvaniaand her M.D. from the Duke University School of Medicine. She also received a Ph.D. from Flinders University of South Australia.

Marc A. Levine joined athenahealth in December 2017 and has served as Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Accounting Officer and Treasurer since January 2018.

Prior to athenahealth, Levine most recently served as the executive vice president and CFO of JDA Software Group, Inc., a privately-held supply chain provider of software and SaaS solutions, where he led the company's finance and accounting, legal, workplace, purchasing and information technology activities. Prior to JDA, Mr. Levine held several senior financial leadership roles over his 25-year career at Hewlett Packard Company, including senior vice president and corporate controller, senior vice president of finance and chief operating officer for HP's Enterprise Services Business segment, and general manager of Southeast Asia for HP's medical products business.

Levine received his B.S. from Emory University and his M.B.A. from the University of Connecticut School of Management.