The headquarters of Dimensional Insight is so close to Lahey Medical Center that it’s more appropriate to walk there than to drive there. Our Burlington neighbor is the latest in a growing trend of large scale hospital mergers. Lahey is awaiting approval on a proposed merger with Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center that would form the second largest hospital system in the state. Speaking with RevCycle Intelligence, Stuart H. Altman, Chair of Commission of Mass Health Policy, called the merger, “the most significant change in the structure of the Massachusetts healthcare market in more than 20 years.”
The upside of these mergers, greater efficiency and price control, are well documented; however, the technological downsides are rarely addressed. Combining two massive health systems creates a huge strain on the information flow of the resulting organization and demands a revenue cycle analytics system that is able to handle the influx of data.
What problems do mergers cause?
From an informational perspective, the issues with mergers arise from hospitals combining two (or more) different electronic health records (EHRs). In Lahey’s case, the system is not only merging with Beth Israel, but also with New England Baptist Hospital, Mount Auburn Hospital, and Anna Jacques Hospital, which expands the possibility for incongruous EHRs.
Hospitals facing this problem will now face a two-fold instance of siloed data. Before any merger occurs, patient data is often only accessible through individual reports making the information extremely time-consuming to acquire. Following the merger, the problem is exacerbated by multiple EHRs that make getting one system-wide ambulatory report, say, a near impossibility.
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