“It may not change the company’s desire or opinion about whether they want to buy or merge with the other organization, but it will allow them to factor in the true financial and time cost of doing so,” Tuttle says.
One way to approach IT integration is for both organizations to run their own systems until a set cutover date. After conducting migration tests, the data should be migrated securely all at the same time.
“It’s always a good idea when merging data to scan it on the way in to make sure the data isn’t opening up your organization to vulnerabilities,” Tuttle says. “Make sure the migration method chosen is secure at rest, in transit and back at rest.”
He recommends migrating data and systems at night to minimize any interruption to care and business operations. The next day, the old system will no longer accept new data inputs. Employees unfamiliar with the system will need onboarding once the merger or acquisition is complete.
Another model involves each organization using its existing system with a third system aggregating information from the two. However, Tuttle says most organizations prefer to consolidate rather than pay twice for the same capabilities.
The Keys to Success for EHR Data and IT Systems Integrations
Atwell says the keys to success include planning, more planning and patience.
“The resulting stakes are high, and cost rationalization is typically a primary driver for change, which applies pressure to integrate quickly. Proper planning with strong project management is an absolute must,” he says.
When integrating two healthcare systems, the goal is to limit any effect on patients. To achieve this, all technology stakeholders should be involved in IT integration planning.
“End-user representatives should also be involved as an integration plan is developed, so that they can identify and communicate potential disruptions to providing care,” Atwell says. “They can also identify necessary training for their peers using the final integrated solution to maintain appropriate care for patients.”
During healthcare M&As, IT teams must partner quickly to review how each team monitors and responds to incidents in their respective environments.
“Standardization of IT tooling and incident response can be almost as involved as integrating the healthcare systems, but it’s imperative that visibility and operational excellence be maintained during the integration process,” Atwell says. “Failure to do so will make the entire integration process considerably more difficult and increase the risk of affecting patient care.”