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) -- Healthcare IT specialist


( EM) burst out of the gate on its first day of trading as a public company Wednesday, with shares quickly surging past their $15.50 offering price.

With the debate about U.S. health care reform intensifying, the company's shares opened at $17.75, and were soon trading at $17.85. The stock dipped, however, to around $17.57 by mid-morning.

Emdeon priced its shares at the top end of its anticipated range of $13.50 to $15.50 after the market's close Tuesday, underlining the growing interest in healthcare technology. The electronic billing giant also increased the number of shares offered by about 10% to 23.7 million.

The interest in Emdeon's shares was not a complete surprise. The company's offering has already generated plenty of


, even in a somewhat cautious IPO market.

Emdeon handled half of all the electronic health care transactions in the U.S. last year. It is seen as well-positioned to exploit President Obama's ambitious

health care agenda


The Obama administration, for example, plans to spend

$10 billion

over five years to implement electronic medical records, and has promised to streamline the byzantine U.S. health care system.

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Even as the debate about Obama's broader strategy intensifies, fueled by recent comments from former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, there seems little doubt that technology will play a much larger role in how Americans access medical services.

Set against this backdrop, Emdeon is an attractive proposition, according to Scott Sweet, principal researcher at analyst firm IPO Boutique.

"It's a very user-friendly, streamlined system that's easily installed and their numbers are quite compelling," he told

. Some 92 % to 95% of the company's revenue is recurring, added Sweet.

Emdeon, which competes with


(MCK) - Get McKesson Corporation Report



, now part of


(HPQ) - Get HP Inc. Report

, clinched revenue of $444.4 million during the first six months of 2009, up from $422.9 million in the same period last year.

The global economic slowdown prompted a hiatus for tech-related IPOs, although recent months have seen a number of firms take the public plunge. Last week, for example,

Avago Technologies

(AVGO) - Get Broadcom Inc. Report


CDC Software

( CDCS) began trading as

public companies

, just a few weeks after software specialist


(LOGM) - Get LogMeIn, Inc. Report

launched its own



Other tech-related offerings this year include

restaurant reservation Web site


(OPEN) - Get Opendoor Technologies Inc Report

network management software



(SWI) - Get SolarWinds Corporation Report


hi-resolution imagery specialist



and language learning software firm

Rosetta Stone

(RST) - Get Rosetta Stone Inc. Report


This momentum looks set to continue. Security specialist


and private equity-backed genealogical Web site

, for example, recently filed their S-1s, and IPO Boutique's Sweet says that most recent offerings have performed well.

"They are pricing them right and bringing these

companies that are seasoned in the top-line revenue growth and the bottom line," he said.


Written by James Rogers in New York