When mindSHIFT acquired Alpheon (an MSP focused on health care) earlier today, I picked up the phone and dialed Mike Jones, CEO of ETG -- another MSP focused on the health care vertical. I asked the obvious question: Has mindSHIFT also approached ETG about a potential buyout as part of a deeper health care push?

Jones declined to mention any potential suitors by name, but he says incoming inquiries about ETG have increased in recent months. Plus, he said the inquiries increasingly involve credible companies -- some of which are publicly held.

Rewind a year or so, and Jones was receiving inquiries that really didn't match his business mindset. Some of the suitors were simply seeking regional expansion opportunities. But Jones will only listen to potential offers from companies that have a deep interest in the health care vertical. "All we do is health care," said Jones. "If we get a call or an inquiry from a customer in another vertical we turn down the opportunity."

So far the health care vertical is treating Jones well -- ETG's business grew about 50 percent last year, he says.

Generally speaking, I think Jones wants to run ETG for several more years. But I suspect government stimulus packages and health care regulations may alter the long-term view for MSPs specializing in electronic medical records (EMR). Much of the stimulus spending is expected to occur by 2015, which means ETG's best opportunity to potentially sell could occur in the next two years or so -- while government-driven growth remains attractive.

Side note: When it comes to M&A chatter, I keep calling Jones -- he hasn't called me. So he's not guilty of promoting his company through this blog to potential suitors. If anything, I'm guilty of asking the M&A question too often of Jones. But calling Jones seemed like a natural move following mindSHIFT's buyout of Alpheon.

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