As more hospitals merge, EHR complications increase

As the pace of hospital mergers increases, the challenges of integrating disparate electronic health records between different institutions also grows, notes a post on the Wall Street Journal's CIO Blog

According to a March report by Moody's, which was reported in Bloomberg News, more and more not-for-profit hospitals are merging because of the recession, Medicare cuts and changing reimbursement formulas. The WSJ blog cites an agreement by Provena Health to unite with Resurrection Healthcare; Ascension Health's announcement last year that it would merge with Alexian Brothers Health System; and merger discussions underway between NYU Langone Medical Center and Continuum Health Partners, also in New York City.

NYU Langone uses the Epic system, while Continuum is on a GE Centricity platform that is still being rolled out. In the WSJ article, Continuum CIO Mark Moroses said that the merger would complicate his organization's EHR transition, which is tied to Continuum's ability to claim federal EHR incentives for Meaningful Use.

The effects of the merger would be felt across all of Continuum's information systems, the article said. It would require the healthcare organization, which includes Beth Israel, St. Luke's, and Roosevelt, to work with NYU Langone to meld "dozens of billing, procurement and patient care systems."

The blog post offers another example involving North Shore-Long Island Jewish Hospital, which took over Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan in 2010. North Shore-LIJ and Lenox Hill are both clients of Allscripts; however, before it can seek the Meaningful Use incentives, Lenox Hill must upgrade to a newer version of the Allscripts EHR.

At that point, most data should be transferable between the two healthcare systems, but there's one additional roadblock: The organizations use medical terminologies that don't always match. The use of different terms for the same concepts will make it difficult for Lenox Hill and North Shore-LIJ to exchange patient data, the post said.

To learn more:
- read the Wall Street Journal blog post
- see the Bloomberg News story on healthcare mergers

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