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Eli Research makes significant acquisition in competitive medical coding field.

American Academy Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of Eli Research Inc., Durham, N.C., recently purchased the assets of the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), a membership organization based in Salt Lake City.

AAPC certifies medical coders in physician offices, outpatient facilities, and claims processing positions. Founded in 1988 to raise the professional standards and recognition of coders, the Academy offers several avenues to help individuals prepare for employment and certification and develop increasingly complicated coding skills. Membership is 55,000 with more than 39,000 currently certified.

The medical coding field is a sizable, growing and lucrative one for newsletter and specialized-information publishers. Investment banker Eugene Simonoff said this acquisition is a "major coup for Eli." Eli Research also owns The Coding Institute, whose president, Samantha Saldukas, was originally hired by its founder, Dr. Leslie Norins. He sold the Institute to Eli in 2002.

In 2003, Eli also acquired the Ingenix line of health care newsletters, published under the imprints St. Anthony Publishing and Medicode. The newsletters, which number about 18, provide coding and compliance information to health care professionals nationwide.

NL/NL asked Eli Research's CEO, Greg Lindberg, what he paid for AAPC. Like almost all newsletter publishers in a similar situation, he laughed. "You know I can't tell you that, especially considering how competitive the coding market is," Greg said.

A membership organization owned by a commercial publisher?

In an October 26 letter to members, AAPC's new CEO and president, Reed E. Pew, tackled head-on the question of a membership organization being owned by a commercial publisher:
 Many of you have expressed curiosity about the new ownership of the
 Academy. Eli Research is known industry-wide for its role and
 support within the coding community. They have been the leading
 source of coding information for more than eight years. These new
 affiliations offer the Academy greater access to educational
 products for our members (an example will be audio conferences,
 which we'll launch before the end of the year) and an ability to
 offer greater services to our chapters (help with speakers, meeting
 prizes, etc.).

 It is important for you to know that the Academy is an autonomous
 division of Eli. Eli and AAPC management are fully aware this is a
 membership-based organization where typical publishing marketing
 practices are not wanted. [Pew's boldface]


Other major players in the coding field

Some may question Pew's phrase "the leading source of coding information." There are many leading sources. Kevin Marcum, for one, founded Contexo Media in 2005 and earlier this year acquired The Medical Management Institute, a leader in the medical coding field, "dedicating its efforts to improving healthcare administrative accuracy and effectiveness." As a former executive at Ingenix Inc., Kevin Marcum, also of Salt Lake City, has spoken at AAPC conferences.

HCPro

HCPro Inc. has a significant presence in the coding establishment, bolstered most recently by its June 2006 acquisition of HRAI Coding Specialists LLC.

Founded by an industry expert, Hugh Aaron, HRAI provides educational courses in the form of intense, multiday boot camp formats and audio-conferences. Aaron, a lawyer, became senior vice president of compliance and regulatory affairs/regulatory counsel at HCPro, Marblehead, Mass.

UCG

Ed Peskowitch, senior partner at UCG in Maryland, told us his company was the "only independent provider of coding services"--not just writing about coding regulations or sponsoring seminars, but covering the industry itself and its people-at-play.

To wit: One of UCG's newsletters reported on alleged legal and financial problems of the founders and administrators of AACP in Salt Lake City. That obviously obviated UCG's chance of bidding on the purchase of the Academy.

In 2004 UCG bought CodeCorrect and then, in its largest divestiture ever, sold it in 2006. "CodeCorrect focused on the hospital side of the business," Ed said when asked about the sale. "We're primarily on the business and office side, so our focus is on print and software."

UCG's publications are both specialty-specific (anesthesia, etc.) and general (billing, coding and reimbursement, etc.).

Eli Research, 222 Sedwick Road, Durham, NC 27713, 888-779-3718, www.eliresearch.com

AAPC, 2480 South 3850 West, #B, Salt Lake City, UT 84120, 801-236-2236, www.aapc.com

Contexo Media, 2795 East Cottonwood Pkwy., #140, Salt Lake City, UT 84121, 801-365-0706, fax 801-365-0707, www.contexomedia.com

HCPro, 200 Hoods Lane, Marblehead, MA 01945, 781-639-1872, fax 781-639-2982, www.hcpro.com

UCG, 11300 Rockville Pike, #1100, Rockville, MD 20852, 301-287-2700, fax 301-816-8945, www.ucg.com
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Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Nov 10, 2006
Words:734
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