The Role of Data Archiving in Healthcare Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are not new to the healthcare industry and will continue to take place in upcoming years at a higher pace and momentum.

  • The “Q2: 2022” report, by KaufmanHall, states that the second quarter of 2022, had 13 M&A’s with two major ‘mega’ transitions between organizations with annual revenues over $1 billion.
  • Behavioral health, home care, long-term care, physician groups, and governmental plans are predicted to be the top healthcare markets for M&A in 2023.
  • Several horizontal and vertical acquisitions are taking place in the healthcare sector. They are believed to help increase scale, reduce capital costs, improve clinical standardization and decrease the risk associated with the cost of care.

Such M&A happens because buyers and sellers want to create strategic, operational and financial value to enhance economies of scale, decrease unit cost, and improve productivity outcomes with increased volumes. This potentially enables lowered healthcare costs and improve quality of care. The report from Deloitte Center states that capital, market share, cost efficiencies and delivery care are the top M&A drivers from organizations.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) conducted research on the effects of hospital acquisitions on costs and quality of care. According to their report, they found that an acquisition is associated with a statistically significant decrease in operating expense per adjusted admission by 2.3% and a decrease in net patient revenue per adjusted admission by 3.5%. The acquisition is also associated with improvements in quality due to decrease in readmission rates, mortality rates and overall negative outcomes. Thus, AHA stands strong in its belief that M&A can enable positive outcomes for healthcare organizations.

Healthcare M&A, despite their commonness, come with their own set of challenges in terms of technology. However, data archiving can be the one-stop solution to overcome all of those associated challenges.

In this article, we’ll cover the following:

 

Challenges with Healthcare Information Technology during M&A

You must be thinking if M&As are so common and beneficial in healthcare, the transition in terms of technology must be simple, right?

If you thought ‘yes’ in answer to this question, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Healthcare organizations have data in multiple systems, across departments and sites. When organizations involve in M&A, the systems to be maintained and used adds up. Additionally, legacy systems need to be retained as per federal and state regulations. This in turn causes problems for the staff, who need to use ‘all’ those systems to acquire information, which in today’s scenario is a major contributor for physician burnout and early retirement.

Well, the problem doesn’t end there. Even these challenges have further implications to consider.

  1. Security Breaches

Your organization may have to handle multiple systems from both the organizations after the M&A. This is a problem because more systems means more vulnerabilities. This is definitely not a matter to be taken lightly, as breaches can cost your organization fines in millions and destroy the reputation of the organization. As of October 31, 2022, OCR has settled or imposed a civil money penalty in 126 cases resulting in a total dollar amount of $133,519,272. 

  1. Data Inaccuracies

The data in your legacy systems may not be completely supported by the new systems after M&A. This would mean that your organization would have to retain some of its historical data in the legacy systems. Thus, the physician would need to manually search for data in multiple systems, and human error could cause data inaccuracies and further problems such as duplication and inconsistent data.

  1. Confidentiality and Privacy

Personal Identifiable Information (PII) and Personal Health Information (PHI) would be at risk, due to multiple staff having access to various systems during the M&A. This would act as a threat to patient confidentiality and privacy.

  1. Documentation Issues

Your organization’s staff may have to search various systems individually, by logging into each one of them to just acquire information about a single patient. Moreover, data stored incorrectly, may cause documentation issues and act as a barrier to data accessibility. 

  1. Staff Retirement

Your organization may have a trained physician to handle the multiple systems. But then the physician may decide to retire. In such a situation, your organization may never again be able to find any patient data in a timely manner.

  1. Staff Adoption Resistance

Your staff may not be familiar with the new systems. They might even feel that it’s ‘too complicated’ or ‘increases workload’ and not adopt to the systems.

  1. Product Sunset

If the system in which your patient’s data is stored sunsets, your organization might have to move to another system to maintain data. Notably, you must remember that legacy data cannot be disposed of and must be retained according to federal and state laws. 

  1. Transition to new EHR and Associated Costs

Your organization may decide to move ‘all’ data into the new system. However, this can be a costly affair for two reasons. Firstly, according to HealthIT.gov, a new EHR can range from $15,000 to $70,000 per provider. Secondly, not all data can be migrated into the new EHR as it may not be compatible with the new system. This would lead the organization to maintain legacy systems at additional costs.

  1. Lack of Interoperability

After an M&A, your organization would be stuck with several systems. However, to manage such data in multiple systems for ‘meaningful use’ may not be an easy task. This is because each system would be created in accordance with its department’s workflow and preference. But during an M&A, the systems may not be compatible with each other and barely exchange complete data.

Data Archiving as a Solution for M&A Challenges

Data Archiving can be the one-stop solution to overcome such M&A challenges with reference to Health Information Technology (HIT). Data Archival is the process of moving inactive records from legacy systems containing key-sequenced data sets to a long-term storage system.

  • Through archival, all data in any format can be extracted from various systems, cleansed, mapped and moved to a single new repository or an archive. This would help overcome the challenges of data inaccuracies, documentation issues, product sunset and interoperability.
  • Compared to the old technology of the legacy systems, the data in the archive is retained securely as per federal laws such as HIPAA, and state retention laws. This ensures that there is no scope for a data breach.
  • Providing only selected staff access to the archive by Role Based Access (RBA) eliminates the problems with confidentiality, privacy, and staff retirement.
  • Most archives are user-friendly and designed based on ease of use and intuitiveness, eliminating problems with staff adoption.
  • Compared to EHRs, an archive is a cost-friendly solution that eliminates the maintenance, application, staff and support costs of legacy systems, by moving data into one centralized consolidated system.

 

Related: A Guide to Healthcare Data Archiving Solutions: Basics and Best Practices

 

An Archival Strategy for a Smooth M&A Transition

Every organization must have a general archival strategy to manage its data lifecycle. Additionally, a smooth M&A Transition requires understanding, collaboration and project management.

The data archival strategy for a smooth M&A Transition must include:

  • Team Approach
    • Leadership and accountability
    • Reduce information asymmetry
  • Follow Best Archival Practices for Integration
    • Type of data: operational or retained
    • Tool of archival based on the data volume and type of data-set
    • For healthcare, a cloud-based archive is recommended
    • Archive data based on statutory and organizational retention requirements
    • Minimize disruption to customers
  • Implement Project Management Best Practices
    • Determine a strategic vision of what needs to be archived
    • Decide explicit goals of archival
    • Follow a project management methodology 
  • Expertise in Data Archival
    • Select an expert archival provider
  • Staff Training
    • Provide training to assigned staff members of both the organizations
    • Support and Backup

 

Cloud-Based Archiving for Organizations undergoing M&A

The cloud-based platforms can help organizations concentrate on acquiring digital capabilities to face the shift in the healthcare industry and customer requirements. The cloud-based archive can scale, expand, and enhance data accessibility to execute M&A and enable rapid transactions. The cloud archive is being used successfully for health information exchanges within and across healthcare organizations.

Some of the benefits of using a cloud-based archive are listed below.

  • Seamless storage, management, and transfer of healthcare data between medical professionals
  • Compliance with mandated federal and state retention laws
  • Real-time access to patient data
  • Improved information sharing with more effective diagnosis and no medical errors
  • Reduced application, maintenance, staff and support costs 
  • Simplified scheduled processing and release of information for patients
  • Improved patient and provider experience
  • Patient continuity of care
  • Enhanced quality of care 
  • Reduced patient data gaps
  • Efficient patient clinical and administrative practice through streamlined workflow
  • Data security and integrity (Protection of PHI and PII)
  • Interoperability in systems across departments and sites
  • Increased HCAHPs scores
  • Reduced readmissions
  • Reduced mortality rates
  • HIPAA-compliance
  • Improved care coordination
  • Data accessibility
  • Data-based analytical and reporting tools
  • Improved operational workflow

 

Triyam and its archival solution, ‘Fovea EHR Archive’

Has your organization been affected by a merger or acquisition? Do you plan on switching to a cloud-based archive as a result?

Triyam provides data archival solutions and helps healthcare organizations decommission legacy systems, and save costs, while meeting mandated statutory retention requirements. Triyam’s cloud-based archival solution, ‘Fovea EHR Archive ®’ can be your organization’s long-term retention solution, providing a centralized platform with interoperability between systems, post-merger or acquisition.

Contact us:

  • Email: info@triyam.com
  • Call: 855-663-2684
  • Schedule an appointment for a free consultation.

 

Related:  EHR Data Archival