It’s no secret that consolidation is a growing trend in healthcare industry. Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, mergers and acquisitions have ballooned, and according to a report by Irving Levin Associates
, such activity increased by 14% in 2015, totaling 1,498 transactions – a new record for deal volume in M&A.
Consolidation touches all aspects of healthcare, from insurers and independent physicians to vendors and hospitals. It can expand geographic reach and create economies of scale on one hand, while enabling overlapping/repetitive care for patients and creating IT system nightmares on the other. Amalgamation seeds both complication and opportunity not only for the practices and organizations that are enveloped, but for the individual departments within them. With ACC.16
on the horizon, here are a few ways cardiology in particular, is being impacted by this trend.
IT Decision Making
Not long ago, each department in a hospital made its own decisions, acting autonomously on matters such as equipment investments and IT infrastructure. Silos were the norm, but consolidation is necessitating a more holistic view. The rise in prominence of the CIO and the integral role played by IT in any hospital network is changing the focus and shifting priorities. Choosing systems – be they PACS, VNAs, or invasive monitoring solutions – has become more of an overarching IT imperative, made with streamlining top of mind.
Audit Trails and Communication
Prior to the proliferation of technologies such as PACS and EHRs, the transfer of information between departments or organizations was cumbersome, slow, and unreliable. With more sophisticated technology and greater efficiency have come not only the need for, but the expectation of better and more detailed communication. As more hospitals, clinics and independent practices become part of a larger healthcare umbrella, an audit trail must be created, tracked, and accessible in order to ensure consistency of care. As patients are passed from cardiology to radiology, oncology and beyond, they increasingly expect this kind of accountability and seamless service.
Effective collaboration between facilities, departments and vendor systems must be a priority for consolidated healthcare networks and for the cardiology departments within them. As Bob Schallhorn, Sr. VP of Solutions Management at Merge explained in a recent article in Cardiovascular Business
, this is key given that “[s]o many of the procedures now are shared, in a sense. They may need to involve a radiologist or other clinicians or be able to review this with their colleagues. Being able to provide technology that allows for collaboration, image sharing, data sharing, and so on. In addition, being able to integrate with all of the business systems—billing and inventory, for example—is critical (…).”
As the healthcare ecosystem grows more complex, cardiology – like so many other specialties – must adapt and evolve. Meet with us to discuss your cardiology strategy at ACC.16. Not attending the conference? Click here to speak with a Merge representative and learn how cardiology departments can thrive in the era of healthcare consolidation