Nearly three quarters of hospitals surveyed in a recent study by health IT vendor Anthelio plan to find partnerships while retaining ultimate ownership of their facility. And among the to-do list items more than half need to pull off is implementing their EMR.
The survey, which was conducted between August and September 2013, used an e-mail questionnaire which was sent out to community-based hospitals and health systems with up to 500 beds, according to a report in Health Data Management magazine. The researchers received responses from 135 community hospital executive representing 123 community-based hospitals.
Seventy-four percent of respondents were looking for partnerships that didn’t involve giving up their independence, while only 9 percent were considering consolidation with a hospital system. That’s a huge dip from last year, in which 41 percent were willing to consider consolidation.
Of the group, only 40 percent have completed and are operating EMRs. Most of the remaining 60 percent have bought an EMR, but have only partially implemented it. It seems very likely that those who haven’t finished their implementation are hoping to leverage their partners’ IT resources to get the job done more quickly and effectively.
Of course, there are other expensive items on hospital executives’ plates, including the transition to ICD-10. Researchers found that 39 percent of respondents have spent or anticipate spending less than $100,000 on the ICD-10 transition, 40 percent will spend $100,000 to $499,000, 13 percent will spend $500,000 to $999,000 and 9 percent will spend more than one million, Health Data Management said.
Take these two forces alone, and it’s clear why hospitals are willing to give up some of their independence in exchange for financial and operational support from a partner. Toss in the need to have a decent bargaining position in a post-ACO world, and the idea of partnering up looks even more attractive.
Still, it’s a risky strategy. To be honest, I’m skeptical that a partnership can deliver these benefits the way executives would hope. In fact, my guess is that a partnership or merger would make an EMR implementation more difficult to coordinate, not less. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see what actually happens.