Only one-third of hospitals switch to new owner's EHR after acquisition, study shows

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While some believe transitioning to a common EHR can support consolidation efforts after a hospital merger or acquisition, only one-third of hospitals actually make the switch, according to a study published by Health Affairs.

Hospitals could experience increased interoperability and reduced operating costs by integrating EHRs. However, there is increasing evidence that mergers and acquisitions lead to a spike in costs, according to the report.

Study authors Julia Adler-Milstein, PhD, a health IT policy researcher, and A. Jay Holmgren, a doctoral candidate at Boston-based Harvard Business School, analyzed data from 4,720 hospitals gathered in the American Hospital Association's survey and IT Supplement from 2012 to 2016 to answer whether acquired hospitals transition EHR systems.

Of the 88 hospitals acquired between 2012 and 2014, results showed:

• 21 percent were already using the dominant EHR vendor
• 35 percent switched to the dominant EHR vendor
• 44 percent did not switch to the dominant EHR vendor

Of the hospitals that switched EHR systems post-acquisition, results showed:

• 19 percent switched within the same year
• 36 percent switched one year later
• 42 percent switched two years later
• 3 percent switched three years later

Study authors concluded that hospital acquisitions and mergers do not guarantee decreased costs or higher-quality care and claims that EHR integration will produce benefits should be further explored.

To view the full report, click here.

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