McKesson-2006-sales-meeting

Goldman Sachs analyst Randall Stanicky, "pointed out that no rival has health care IT offerings as comprehensive as McKesson's."

"Based on our mapping of McKesson's current health care information technology offerings and the competitive landscape, we have concluded that the company has one of the most comprehensive portfolios across market participants who range from hospitals, physicians, payors and pharmacies to functions including business management, clinical and automation," he said in a note to clients.

McKesson increased its growth and capabilities in the health care IT space with the acquisitions of HealthCom Partners, RelayHealth, Per-Se, Practice Partner, and Awarix over the past 18 months, Stanicky noted.

Two thoughts come to mind. First, don't think that Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen and other competitors aren't leveraging software (and other things) to create their own unique value proposition. I don't see HIT as some inherently superior differentiator relative to all the other market segments and differentiators available to vendors.

The second thought is that McKesson's strength could also be its weakness. Hospitals love single vendor solutions. At the very least, they get "one throat to choke" when it comes to product and service issues. In the best case, you have a broad well integrated product line that provides one solution that takes the place of multiple vendor's systems.

In reality, there are very few broad well integrated product lines - and it seems the broader you get, the less well integrated the overall solution. Consequently, the best case promise of single vendor solutions is rarely realized. And many hospitals forgo operational or clinical performance as a consequence of the conscious decision to remain faithful to one strategic vendor.

The breadth of the McKesson portfolio makes me nervous. If I was a CIO, I'd want to know how much is being budgeted to actually integrate those recent acquisitions to create a truly superior solution. Few things in life are black and white; so too with single vendor versus best of breed solutions. An enterprise architecture made up of a combination of a few key vendors rounded out by best of breed solutions should provide greater performance and value than either extreme.

Pictured above is a photo from McKesson's 2006 national sales meeting.