Technology integration plays a critical role in the success of healthcare mergers and acquisitions. Health IT integrations can be a significant source of value, but also come with risk and uncertainty and often have strict timelines, creating challenges for providers and in maintaining patient care. One misstep in the IT integration process can result in a post-deal crisis, interrupting the continuity of patient care, or even worse, negatively impacting a patient outcome.
When working with a prominent healthcare organization which had acquired several hospitals requiring IT integration, the challenge was compounded by the simultaneous deployment of the following programs: EMR (EPIC), 3rd Party Ancillary Systems, ERP (Peoplesoft), HCM (Oracle Cloud), a complete suite of applications for Facilities, Specialty Systems, and an Enterprise Data Warehouse, all aligned with a common IT security and architecture model.
Grant Thornton focused on five key areas to help this healthcare organization successfully integrate their systems to enhance, streamline, and standardize patient care.
- Selecting a strategic partner
Many healthcare organizations frequently lack the experience and resources to successfully carry out an IT integration. IT team members often have limited bandwidth to handle integration tasks in addition to their regular operational responsibilities in maintaining the expected quality of care. Bringing on an experienced partner with a hardened IT integration playbook addresses these complications and helps in avoiding costly unforeseen pitfalls. Working with a strategic partner can not only accelerate the integration process but can also help align the overall program team to a common set of practices, tools, and cadence.
- Integrating the business and IT
Working with the business is paramount to ensuring changes in IT align with the overall business strategy and support the provider’s long-term goals. Partnering with key business stakeholders and clinical leaders during an IT transition will support the alignment of objectives, capabilities, and expectations. IT and the business should also work together to carefully assess IT capabilities to identify opportunities to build post-deal synergies, while keeping in mind the business and clinical processes required to maintain continuity of patient care. This cross-organizational teaming will also be key to coordinating IT and operational efforts throughout the transition, including TSA exits.
- Applying an agile approach
IT integrations are the perfect candidates for applying agile methodologies and are opportunistic for training the organization in more modern ways of working. Agile methodologies support building and executing a rapid deployment plan tailored to the unique requirements and constraints of a specific transaction. Portfolio-wide sprint planning sessions can help with prioritizing tasks and accounting for interdependencies across the entire integration. Incorporating sprint retrospectives can facilitate continuous evaluation and improvement of the integration execution practices at regular cadence. By applying these agile practices, organizations can iterate towards completing the integration on time and within budget.
- Defining the minimal viable product for TSA exit
The goal in defining the minimal viable product (MVP) is to focus on the key value drivers for the integration and to manage scope creep that could take a program off course. Knowing the MVP helps prioritize the most valuable capabilities required for integration, minimizing risks, and streamlining the integration process. An important activity to help determine the MVP is building a comprehensive inventory of relevant IT systems, data requests, and contracts within the integration scope.
- Getting ahead of change management
Change management is crucial towards ultimately delighting the patient and provider experience throughout the transition. IT integrations result in significant changes to the technology and processes within the healthcare environment, which can create uncertainty and challenges for providers in maintaining patient care. Effective change management helps to mitigate these risks, align stakeholders to the integration goals, and ensure a smooth transition minimizing disruption to clinical operations. A change management plan should encompass procedures for communicating upcoming changes resulting from the integration and identify the required training to providers and other technology end users on the new processes.
Working in a leadership role with the client, we helped position them for go-live ahead of schedule and with more than six months remaining on the transition services agreement. Additionally, all programs were delivered simultaneously, under budget, and with a high degree of client satisfaction. Health IT integrations present many complexities and often have strict timelines for completion with little room for error. Healthcare organizations that attempt to go it alone often face many surprises throughout the integration process, which not only threaten the financial stability of the organization but also present serious risks to the provider experience and patient outcomes. A big step towards ensuring a successful healthcare IT integration is working with an experienced partner with a tested playbook.
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