The last two decades have seen significant consolidation among health systems, hospitals, and private medical practices. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) encouraged mergers and acquisitions in order to decrease healthcare spending by eliminating duplication, standardizing treatment protocols, and incentivizing better utilization. As a result, there has been a surge of Merger and Acquisition (M&A) activity in healthcare since the ACA became law.
In addition to encouragement from the ACA, hospital and health system leaders have turned to mergers, acquisitions, and other forms of partnerships in order to reduce costs, enhance competitive positioning, and pivot to a value-based business model.
Have you considered your data in your plan? Some merging entities consider EHR data conversion, data archiving, or running multiple systems. No matter which route you take, standardization of data practices and systems between the healthcare organizations is of prime importance for the following 5 reasons:
1. Deliver quality care
When health care providers have access to complete and accurate information, patients receive better medical care. Standardized electronic health records (EHRs) can improve providers’ ability to diagnose diseases and reduce medical errors, and ultimately improve patient outcomes. Maintaining the integrity of and supporting access to patient data should be of prime importance during a merger or acquisition in order to deliver a high level of care.
2. Meet patient demands for access to data
Patients today have been demanding access to their health information. They are a driving force behind the greater adoption of care technologies and are pushing the envelope in innovations to improve communications, care, and data access. Studies show that patients are going as far as choosing their providers based, in part, on how well they use technology to communicate and manage their health. Care providers who can facilitate patient access and who adopt a care-from-anywhere model will be a strong position to be successful. While completing a merger or acquisition, providers must consider the safekeeping of patient data as well as how to ensure that patients have the access they demand.
3. Provide decision support to physicians
Clinical decision support (CDS) is a tool that equips providers, staff, patients or other individuals with knowledge and person-specific information. That information is then intelligently filtered and/or presented, when appropriate, to enhance health and care. CDS is a complex health IT component that requires a combination of biomedical knowledge, person-specific data, and the reasoning to combine the knowledge and data in order to generate helpful alerts and information to providers. This information must be filtered, organized, and presented in such a way to support the current workflow and allow the user to make a quick and informed decision. Different types of CDS are ideal for different care settings. Because the majority of CDS applications operate as components of comprehensive EHR systems, it is imperative that this workflow is taken into consideration when making the choice of an EHR and deciding how and when to migrate data.
4. Operate and communicate effectively
When completing a merger or acquisition, healthcare leadership must consider how to best facilitate communication between providers and patients, between providers and other healthcare professionals, and between providers and other healthcare organizations. In doing so, access to and the integrity of data play a key role. When merging with another healthcare organization, the leaders must think about how the systems will integrate and the effect that it will have on all types of communication and how that will affect the operations of the organization and ultimately patient care.
5. Meet regulatory requirements
Healthcare is a heavily regulated industry, and data is necessary to meeting the requirements of many healthcare regulations. Failure to comply can result is missed opportunities for incentives or even large fines. Maintaining access to and the integrity of data is necessary to meet the requirements of Meaningful Use, Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMH), and many others.
There are many things to consider when joining with another healthcare organization. From legal to human resources to marketing, no part of your organization will go unaffected. However, in the shuffle, it is imperative that data and the decisions on how to maintain it, play a key role as you decide between EHR data conversion, archiving, or running multiple systems. To learn more about potential solutions, download Evolution of EHR: Changing Systems Without Affecting Care.