Are you utilizing a merger or acquisition as a catalyst for technological improvement? During a transaction, hospitals and other medical facilities must consider bolstering technology infrastructure to attract patients, customers and staff and meet compliance requirements. The next generation of employees and patients demand a different type of technological experience; these expectations, combined with merging systems and applications and HIPAA and HITECH challenges are driving a great deal of questions and infrastructure pain.
To meet patient demands, some organizations are introducing secure websites to review test results, post messages, schedule appointments and view records. In addition, doctors, nurses and staff expect a high degree of digitalization to access medical records and applications seamlessly on the move around a facility. However, many facilities struggle to keep pace with technology that not only increases convenience, but also improves the level of patient care.
A natural time to look at medical industry technology infrastructure investments is when an organization is acquired or a merger takes place. Organizations should be asking what the underlying objective is of the transaction and how technology impacts the disposition of the post-acquisition organization.
Medical information is in the midst of a transition from largely paper-format, physical copies to digital records. With the increasing demand for access and portability of information, medical facilities are investing in electronic medical record (EMR) systems and attempting to link previously siloed information repositories. Increasing cohesion of information allows staff and patients to have a more collaborative relationship and experience.
However, on the back end of new infrastructure demands, organizations have significantly more capacity requirements and require capacity planning following a transaction. EMR systems are very robust and have tremendous storage requirements, and HIPAA and HITECH have introduced new record retention and privacy demands. A single patient can have thousands of pages of documentation, creating an intense and significant storage need.
With those needs in mind, many health care organizations gain significant economies of scale following a merger or acquisition. Robust technology investments are no longer a luxury; they are a compliance requirement, as well as a component of delivering a comprehensive experience to the patient. The transaction becomes an opportunity to understand where the new organization is at from a technology perspective and what change and investment must take place.
First and foremost, the new entity must understand what technology experience it wants to deliver. Taking the different services it provides into consideration, what atmosphere is the organization trying to create? When this umbrella is formed, it is easier to look at individual systems and how they fit into the equation.
Executives must ask how technology supports or changes the organization’s mission, vision and values. That determination can then drive how they choose to deliver the patient and employee experience. There is no one-size-fits-all technology solution; it becomes a question of the organization’s goals and information demands and how to use technology to fit those needs.
For example, in many situations, two separate EMR systems come together as a result of M&A; one may be better for the new organization, possibly neither is the right solution. Organizations must choose whether they want to be a technology leader and an innovator or implement lesser technology that may not be on the leading edge. That will help to decide what kind of technology to implement, as well as what level of investment is required.
In addition, organizations must take HIPAA and HITECH requirements into account as solutions are designed. Obligations from security and privacy and record retention standpoints will dictate certain aspects of technology system design and help shape the employee and patient experience.
Following a transaction, organizations are faced with several difficult decisions regarding technology. However, establishing expectations upfront for how technology will be deployed and how it will support the organization’s mission will help guide decisions and implementation. The momentum gained by a merger or acquisition can help fuel technology improvements that satisfy compliance requirements and the enhanced demands of staff and patients.
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