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Hospital Mergers Complicate EMR Transition

Posted on June 14, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Getting an EMR up and running in a hospital or health system is complicated enough. But managing EMR implementations in the midst of hospital mergers is even more difficult.

Like it or not, though, hospital CIOs are increasingly facing the likelihood that they’ll be facing a merger in the midst of their EMR rollout, notes a new piece in the Wall Street Journal. With reimbursements from both Medicare and private insurers falling, hospitals’ margins are growing perilously thin, and the pace of hospital mergers is likely to increase, according to a March report by Moody’s.

Right now, for example, two of New York’s biggest hospital chains — NYU Langone Medical Center and Continuum Health Partners — have agreed to discuss a possible merger. Continuum CIO Mark Moroses is in the process of moving his chain of hospitals to its GE Centricity EMR, in a move which will allow the chain to collect $20 million to $30 million in Meaningful Use incentives.

If the merger between Langone and Continuum goes through, Moroses will have to stitch together dozens of billing,  procurement and patient care systems over the next few years, the WSJ notes. But more than that, the hospital chains will have to synchronize their clinical information management, a formidable job which, as Moroses says, leaves no room for error.

It’s not just systems integration that merging systems will face, however. As the WSJ piece notes, when North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System took over Lenox Hill Hospital in 2010, the systems’s CMIO Michael Oppenheim had to bring Lenox Hill’s data to a new version of its Allscripts EMR.  The system used currently by Lenox Hill is an old one which isn’t certified for Meaningful Use.

Ultimately, hospitals’ urge to merge makes sense on a lot of levels. Given their tremendous capital costs (including EMR spending) it only makes sense to achieve economies of scale.  Unfortunately, the commonsense desire to save money and be more efficient is going to subject HIT leaders to an even rougher ride then they might have expected.

Hurricane Irene Highlights Life-Saving Potential of Mobile EMRs

Posted on August 31, 2011 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

Watching the East Coast prepare for Hurricane Irene last weekend had me flashing back to the aftermath of the tornadoes that hit Joplin, Missouri, earlier this year. Would hospitals suffer the same levels of destruction that St. John’s Regional Medical Center did? Would they be as successful in evacuating patients and treating them off-site with limited supplies and infrastructure?

Fortunately, lessons learned from providers in Joplin, and to a greater extent from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, enabled providers along the East Coast to implement well thought-out disaster preparedness plans at their facilities. Mother Nature also lent a hand by withholding from Hurricane Irene the extreme conditions her predecessor unleashed on the South some six years ago.

The team at North Shore – Long Island Jewish Health System makes a compelling case study for the smoothness with which detailed planning can bring to hospital evacuation scenarios. The short video below gives a glimpse into the efforts the hospital’s staff put forth to evacuate 252 in-patients and 50 emergency department patients in less than 24 hours. The helpful Mr. HISTalk has compiled a brief list of updates on several additional hospitals affected by the storm (scroll down to the bottom of the post for updates).

It was by pure coincidence that news of e-MDs’ launch of its Rounds® mobile EMR app for the iPhone reached my desk just as Hurricane Irene was closing in on land. The new app enables physicians to remotely and securely key in patient information from their EHRs via their mobile device – surely a tool that physicians would find useful in treating patients during an evacuation process such as that undertaken by North Shore-LIJ.

Patrick Hall, Executive Vice President of Business Development at e-MDs, told me that the mobile health solution was launched “to help our physician clients stay connected to patient information. We have observed that [they] have been dealing with more and more work when they are away from the office. This provides them with a convenient tool to deal with some of this, using an easily carried device that gives them access to complete patient information so they can make informed decisions about patient care.”

I’ll be interested to learn if any hospitals or private practice physicians came away with “success” stories because of their mobile EMR solutions. I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief that successes this time around far outnumber the failures.