What Do M&As Mean for Healthcare IT Systems?
“Healthcare IT departments can face a variety of challenges when it comes to mergers and acquisitions, especially if the two hospital systems have standardized on different software platforms,” says Josh Atwell, senior technology advocate at Splunk. “Transitioning a healthcare provider from one platform, whether it is EHR or something simpler like scheduling, is often one of the most involved projects that a healthcare IT department regularly manages. This is multiplied during mergers and acquisitions.”
A healthcare organization merging with or acquiring another first needs to determine which accounting and patient data systems are used by each organization and whether to merge them, explains Dale Tuttle, a partner with Withum.
“From my perspective, people underestimate how hard it is to migrate data. It takes longer, is more expensive and is typically a more error-prone process than people expect,” he says. “If buying another company, you need to know what systems they have and which data they capture. While it sounds easy, it can be difficult. They could have an identical system but a different data model.”
What Challenges Do M&As Pose for Healthcare IT Systems?
Integrating healthcare IT systems during a merger or acquisition can come with many challenges, including the balance of business timelines, typically to reduce overhead costs, while maintaining system availability.
“Unlike many industries where there are predictable windows for downtime or service transition, greater care must be taken when merging or decommissioning services post-merger,” Atwell says of healthcare organizations. “Having reliable visibility into platform performance and health is critical throughout the integration effort.”
In some cases, a healthcare organization may need to run both systems in parallel for a period, adding to the cost and complexity of operating both businesses.
Data legally can’t be migrated until the deal is completed because of privacy and compliance concerns, says Tuttle, but that doesn’t mean healthcare organizations should wait to create a data governance and migration plan. It can be beneficial to begin that planning when the organization is conducting its due diligence. Otherwise, an organization could be left scrambling and at risk of making mistakes.