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Athenahealth sees promise in small hospital market

Athenahealth Inc. is optimistic about interest from small hospital clients amid uncertainty in the broader healthcare environment.

The company, which provides network services for electronic health records, cited growing momentum and awareness in the under 50-bed hospital market. Executives said during an earnings call that they plan to double the contracted hospital base in 2017.

Chairman, President and CEO Jonathan Bush said uncertainty around the possible repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act does not affect its business in the small hospital segment. For small U.S. hospitals, the world is "plenty unstable" already, according to Bush.

"In that segment, repeal and replace, or lots of loud noises coming from Washington adds to the confusion and uncertainty in an already incredibly uncertain and unstable world," Bush said.

He pointed out that instability could drive this group to buy its services and eliminate the need to raise capital to automate its systems.

Bush said in the current environment, health providers may be worried about the cost of being in business and shrinking revenue streams. Doctors will have to "earn visits," he added.

"Truthfully in 2017, if you don't go with athena, you're not going with anyone," he said.