Hospital M&A: Why CIOs are critical

Chief information officers are key players when entities merge or are acquired, responsible for making sure the technologies from both parties can seamlessly integrate.

Ensuring that technologies merge quickly and in a cost-efficient way can have a big impact on the success of a merger, Richard Raysman and Francesca Morris, partners in the New York office of Holland & Knight, write at the Wall Street Journal.

CIOs at healthcare providers and companies, in particular, have a great deal of responsibility when two entities combine.

It's vital for both information systems leaders and healthcare execs to be at the table when agreements are made. Smooth transitions come down to good governance, Scott MacLean, deputy CIO at Partners HealthCare in Boston, wrote for

"Non-technical leaders tend to think technical integration will be like flipping a switch, when in fact it can be hard," MacLean said.

There are many steps CIOs must take during an acquisition or merger, with one of the hardest and most important centering on picking which systems stay and which systems go, Raysman and Morris write. This includes deciding whether a new system at one entity is worth keeping over a more efficient and tested system at another.

They add that CIOs must compile the software licenses and service agreements of both companies, including information on the usage scope of the licenses, price for additional or reduced usage and termination provisions. Such efforts help CIOs with important decisions, including which license agreements to combine, which ones to terminate and which ones to expand.

In addition, cybersecurity cannot be far from a CIO's mind during this time, as sometimes an acquiring organization will take on the other's security risks, Mac McMillan, current chair of the HIMSS Privacy and Security Policy Task Force, said earlier this year.

To learn more:
- read the WSJ article