A provider – who was recently acquired by a large health system – was lamenting their data migration strategy because there was a gap between the information he needed and the information he had during the transition.
“It was terrible. Terrible. And care suffered, and I lost patients.”
Be it one provider or a whole health system, M&A activity continues to pick up steam, and it’s worth pulling out your (possibly pre-pandemic) data strategy around how to integrate these additions and ensure that they don’t have an end result that disrupts clinical care.
Below are three important questions to ask during your next M&A project:
What does the data look like?
If your organization, like most, has set forth data governance standards for your EHR system it’s important that the first thing that occurs, before anything else, is a data assessment on the acquisitions current state documentation. The data assessment needs to determine several critical items that will heavily influence decisions, especially the second point below.
- What is the quality of the data, i.e., is it consistent across patient charts. For example, are problems discreetly documented in the problem list, or are they only documented in the office note? Is it the same for every patient or haphazard?
- How different are the acquisition documentation rules from your organization’s data governance standards? How much effort will be needed to get the data to your standards?
- How much data is there? Is there only 2 years’ worth of patient records your organization is taking custody of or is it 10? This will greatly impact the financials related to your data migration strategy.
Map, move or store migrating data?
After the assessment is complete then you can start to determine the best method or combination of methods to get the acquisitions data integrated into your system.
Map – Is there data that make sense to electronically map because it easily matches up with your organizations target system, items such as demographics or codified data like allergies? Does the acquisition have the volume of patients that makes sense to attempt an electronic conversion?
Move – Back to the data quality question above…is the data way off from your organization’s standards? Does it need manual intervention to move into your system consistently? There are expert organizations that specialize in moving this data effectively and accurately and does that set the acquisition up for success to partner with such a vendor?
Store – Holding on to data for legal retention is important. How much data is there to hold on to? Is it a volume that allows for manual movement of the documents between the source systems or is an archiving vendor needed?
Standard or specialty care?
This is not a one size fits all situation. The clinical information and documents a pediatrician need in their new chart is very different from an endocrinologist. Does your strategy take into consideration the specialty of the provider/group being acquired and how they compare to your data standard. Ensure you are setting the providers and patients up for success by setting data standards for each specialty in scope.
Acquisitions are an important growth strategy for health systems but be sure your data strategy to integrate them into your organization sets the physician and the patient up to have a great first impression of the move and supports providers have the data they need for successful patient outcomes.