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MedCity News

januari 08, 2024

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How Can Hospitals Make the Post-Merger Transition As Smooth As Possible?

Experts have predicted that 2024 will be an eventful year for hospital M&A activity. The financial landscape for health systems remains challenging, so it isn’t surprising that more and more hospitals are expected to forge partnerships aimed at growing and protecting their long-term financial sustainability.

M&A deals in the healthcare delivery space famously take a long time to close. This is due to a number of factors, including regulatory approvals, financial assessments and planning for culture shifts. The work that comes after the deal is finalized, such as integrating disparate technology systems and unifying branding, takes even longer — often years. As the industry prepares for another big year of hospital M&A transactions, there are a few things that health system leaders involved in these deals should keep in mind to make the process as smooth as possible, according to DexCare CEO Derek Streat.

DexCare — which was incubated for five years at Providence and spun out in 2021 — provides health systems with a platform that helps them coordinate and manage digital care services so they can better address the needs of the modern healthcare consumer. “Virtually all” of the health systems with which DexCare works have been a part of an acquisition or consolidation deal in the past few years, Streat said in an interview.

From his experience working with these health systems, Streat noted the organizations that have the smoothest transitions are the ones that quickly coordinated their digital assets and different technology systems.

“Even if you have multiple brands and multiple web assets, for example, that doesn’t mean you can’t have the same back end that unifies provider availability — and all the data around providers across the network and settings and service lines and modalities and those things,” he explained. “If you have that unified data, you can push it out into patient experiences —  whether it’s someone calling into a call center or someone visiting a website. This can all be branded for your different hospitals, but they can still be powered by the same back end.”

Health systems usually have more success when they start integrating this data on the back end in a timely fashion, Streat added.

This type of overarching data unification is certainly not easy, but it usually takes less time than some of the other things health systems have to do following an M&A deal, such as rebranding and instating a new organizational culture, he pointed out.

“You can get some quick wins, on a relative basis, on the technology front if you start to integrate people, processes and systems sooner rather than later,” Streat declared.

Often when people think about coordinating disparate technologies post-merger, their mind immediately goes to expensive, grandiose EHR unification projects, he noted. But that is not an example of the quick wins Streat is talking about. 

Instead, he is encouraging health systems to unite the various digital assets that make up the provider and patient experience. This is a much easier task than a massive EHR project, given many of these digital tools are written in an API-first way, Streat said.

Photo: z_wei, Getty Images

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