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● Think Tank

critical to have a defi ned scope and clear plan communicated early and often, as well as updates to refl ect adjustments in the project over time. Balancing timelines and resources in organizations pursuing multiple acquisitions is particularly challenging.

• Change fatigue. T e reality is that mergers drive a lot of change for all involved. To help prevent burn out, it is important to measure progress as it's being made. Defi ne measurable targets to hold the organization accountable as transformation occurs, and be sure to celebrate early wins to build up momentum.

• Get ready for more. T e Advisory Board expects 88 percent of healthcare executives to pursue a merger in the coming 12 months. Mergers should be treated as a competence to develop, not a one-time project. Come away from early projects with key learnings and a template for future acquisitions.

What are some of the warning signs IT execs should look for when interfacing/ integrating systems during a merger?

Frank Negro, Practice Leader, Global Healthcare Consulting, Dell Services

T e most signifi cant warning of impending diffi culties during system integration discussions during a merger is when discus- sions occur regarding “source of truth” for key information. To meet (merged) organizational needs, a clear understanding of the role of each of the organization’s systems in providing key organizational information must be clearly defi ned, and integration activities must be undertaken with these require- ments in mind.

Sheldon Newman, Co-Founder, CFO, Executive Vice President, Channel Partner Relationships, ViiMed

Two key warning signs: • Executives must make sure that there is no negative impact on service or support of the respective client bases. Client service should never suff er. T ere will be many meetings of both organizations and their leaders. T ey’ll discuss reorganization plans, new product plans, schedules, com- bining client services, etc. Changes are inevitable. But the quality of the products and the delivery of services should continue to excel.

• Secondly, executives need to be tuned into morale issues that aff ect key talent who are at risk of leaving, and with them, their collective knowledge. Reductions in staffi ng will occur. But, administered carefully and done with due consideration for a stronger combined outcome, the right people will stay.

Steve Matheson, Vice President, Product Management, BridgeHead Software

Here are four: • No clear agreement that both systems being integrated will be retained in the medium term.

• Integration will not be accomplished using healthcare stan- dard architectures (XDS, HL7, etc.) or technology standard architectures (ODBC, SQL, etc.).

8 April 2014

• Integration appears to be a never-ending services engage- ment that requires constant tweaking by the integrator or consulting fi rm.

• T e application data is being transformed in a way that it: ° Changes its native format (wrapping data into other fi le formats) that makes it harder to share or manage and requires you to “unwrap” the data if you want it back. T e application vendor is often very reluctant to help with data issues when they fi nd out you have “changed” the data format using tools they did provide.

° Losing the accompanying information, known as meta- data, that describes the data or who or what created it.

Chris Watson, Chief Operating Offi cer, Brightree Lack of Web services or application programming interfaces (APIs) can be a challenge when looking to quickly combine two software systems. Additionally, when two systems have diff erent underlying technology stacks, it can be more diffi cult and time

consuming to make them interoperate and “talk to each other.” Steve Fanning, Vice President, Healthcare Industry Strategy, Infor T e nature of the technology touches more cross-functional departments than almost any other IT service. If these groups are not actively engaged, you likely are replicating whatever was built years ago, without any consideration of a better way for the combined organization to operate. Another key warning sign is failure to embrace an enterprise integration strategy. Part of the value of the merger is the ability to coordinate care across a wider continuum. If the combined organization does not have an enforced standard to interoperate,

this can lead to many operational challenges following a merger. Frank Negro, Practice Leader, Global Healthcare Consulting, Dell Services

In my opinion, the most common reason for “skidding off the tracks” is underestimating the complexity of the analyses required to consolidate organizations and systems, especially the non-technical (cultural) components of these.

In your experience (and opinion), how, when and where do IT execs typically skid off the tracks during merger- inspired IT convergences? Will you provide an anecdotal example?

Sheldon Newman, Co-Founder, CFO, Executive Vice President, Channel Partner Relationships, ViiMed

Here are three: • Taking their eye off current business and clients while plan- ning for future integration and growth.

• Not adopting a communication strategy with their clients and the teams that is open, honest and transparent. No greater failure can occur than for plans to not be properly communicated before or after the merger.

• Don’t scapegoat. Surprises will happen. Find solutions. Yes, I have many stories, but to protect the innocent, or maybe

the guilty, I’d rather be generic. In one case, although we did a great job in our due diligence and completed our merger, some of the benefi cial outcomes just hadn’t progressed to the point we had anticipated. Rather than focus on assigning blame, or get-


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