During the upcoming 2017 AHIMA Convention and Exhibit in Los Angeles, I will be co-presenting with Melissa Landry, RHIA, Assistant Vice President of Health Information Management (HIM) for Ochsner Health System, in a session titled “Merger Mania: Impact to HIM and Privacy.”

This presentation will review current industry trends around mergers of healthcare organizations, then go into details of how Ochsner increased efficiency and quality improvements, specific to Protected Health Information (PHI) disclosure management, across their organization by partnering with MRO. Below are strategies that will assist HIM professionals in eliminating data gaps during mergers, and help ensure HIPAA compliance, PHI security and data integrity.

Good Planning and Due Diligence
Merging facilities requires preparation and continuous management. It is important to establish the legal custody and responsibility for the medical record to establish the real source of truth. Review with your legal team to develop a medical records custody agreement that includes this detail as a component of the partnership agreement. For example, a partnership agreement with a Release of Information vendor should establish that the partner has access to all defined components of the defined legal record and that the chain of custody is established for each transition occurring with this information.

An assessment of a facility’s culture and its impact upon the success of the partnership is strongly recommended. An assessment will fully detail an organization’s current state and facilitate relationship building. When assessing a facility, focus on products and service offerings considered best in class, and align with those providing complementary services to round out offerings.

Process Design, Documentation and Integration
Successful acquisitions hinge on well-executed integration. Investing heavily in up-front planning efforts focused on consumer value will help ensure strong brands are not diluted through poor execution. Organizations should develop a conversion strategy and communicate it to providers. This is critical for reducing the risk of data gaps or comingled patient records.

To optimize HIM systems, organizations need to set policies and procedures for how to handle records and Release of Information. Workflows should be redesigned as needed and employees should undergo ongoing training and education. This will ensure consistency, accuracy and mitigate risk.

As it will be discussed during our upcoming AHIMA presentation, Ochsner Health System, comprised of 29 owned, managed and affiliated hospitals and more than 60 health centers, partnered with MRO to handle Release of Information across its system. Delivering a truly enterprise-wide disclosure management solution, the implementation allowed Ochsner to achieve the standardization and centralization they sought.

Learn more at the upcoming AHIMA Convention, or download MRO’s Ochsner Health case study by completing the form.