Healthcare data is also a prime target for cybercriminals because it often contains financial and personal data that can be used to commit fraud. In June 2022 alone, 70 healthcare data breaches of 500 or more records were reported to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights. To reduce such risks, healthcare organizations need to assess carefully the security policies and procedures of both organizations during a merger or acquisition.
EXPLORE: Why planning is key to managing health IT integration during an M&A.
This complexity has made master data management a vital discipline in healthcare, says Chittoor. It’s essential for organizations to spend a lot of time up front identifying how to best map data points and what the new infrastructure will look like, he adds. Health IT leaders need to determine what level of data they want to keep, apply rules that maintain data quality, and ensure validation and alignment with the lead organization’s systems. This often involves IT team members and a quality assurance team to validate data before the new system is released to patients.
“It’s not just moving data between columns. It needs to be a comprehensive migration. Data exchanges and storage have been a big challenge for healthcare companies, but they are making a lot of progress in catching up,” says Chittoor.
Integrating EHR Data with Quality Assurance During a Merger or Acquisition
At Ochsner Health, data mergers start with guiding principles that focus on best practices for migrating, using and presenting clinical data to users, explains Amy Trainor, the organization’s vice president of IS clinical systems. Because the quality of data is affected by the previous system, how often it was updated and what functionality was available, a best-practice approach helps ensure data is available in the clinicians’ workflow.
Ochsner has entered into several mergers and acquisitions in recent years. Most recently, it merged with Rush Health Systems, gaining 30 additional clinics and seven hospitals in Mississippi and Alabama.
Even with the smallest partners, Ochsner completes a data review to ensure accuracy. Continuity of care documents are especially important because they are not all created equal, says Trainor. True CCD summaries can include notes, vitals and surgical records in addition to problems, allergies, medications and immunizations. Because these documents may not be consistent across systems, it’s essential to review their accuracy and consider carefully how they should be integrated into the new system.
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