Corporate “Parents” Largely Involved in Integrated Delivery Network Policy; Challenges Remain for EMR Uptake

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HRA’s Newest Study Explores Levels of Integration, Decision-Making Paradigms in Healthcare Network Environments.

...I would have thought we were further along toward full integration...EMR is incredibly important to the success of an IDN.

Although the corporate parents of Integrated Delivery Networks (IDNs) are actively developing policies to be used across the IDN, vast differences remain among IDNs that either “recommend” or “mandate” corporate policy, according to Understanding Integrated Delivery Networks, a study published in November 2012 by HRA – Healthcare Research & Analytics.

Eighty percent of the over 200 IDNs included in HRA’s research are subject to policies and practices drafted by corporate entities that own or control the IDN component members. However, a much smaller subset – 29% – is obliged to abide by corporate decisions and mandates IDN-wide. The balance presents a variety of other decision-making paradigms that primarily call for suggestions to follow corporate recommendations, with some flexibility allowed for the component members.

“A lot of times autonomy is part of what gets written into the acquisition deal when these medical groups get bought,” said one key opinion leader (KOL) participating in the HRA research program. “Total top down control doesn’t work all that well in the context of the smaller institutions. When those adaptations can’t be made, they get really inefficient. Over time, you realize there’s a pendulum swing at every organization between full integration and the next bar – partial integration using corporate policies. You tend to need a little flexibility to maximize efficiency.”

Critical to achieving true integration in healthcare is the implementation of a network-wide electronic medical records (EMR) system; and while a fully functioning EMR is a key priority across the IDNs surveyed by HRA, significant opportunities remain for these IDNs to become fully integrated online. Although almost half of the IDNs included in HRA’s study have an EMR system linking “most” component members, only 26% maintain EMR linking all members of the network and a full 25% describe the EMR system as being unique to the individual healthcare delivery channel only – whether a hospital, physician group/practice, or other healthcare entity.

“If this is the current state, I would have thought we were further along toward full integration,” commented one key opinion leader in the research. “The thing is, EMR is incredibly important to the success of an IDN. But it’s incredibly important to have a good EMR – and most of them [are ineffective]. Rapid acquisition also contributed to this. Not all acquired components have the same system yet.”

HRA’s newest study, Understanding Integrated Delivery Networks, explores trends toward integration in healthcare delivery – covering not only on IDNs, but on how they relate to Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). Methodologically, the research pairs extensive desk research with primary qualitative and quantitative research among Pharmacy Directors, Medical Directors, and Administrators from institutions that are part of hospital-centric IDNs. It also includes perspectives from key opinion leaders (KOLs) who serve as experts in the issues surrounding the healthcare market at large. The research covers a variety of topics including how to define the various types of integrated delivery networks, levels of standardization across IDNs, and how to identify “fully” versus “partially” integrated IDNs. The research provides insights on roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders within IDN setting, IDN relationships with pharmaceutical companies, and the future outlook for IDNs, among other themes. HRA’s report, which is over 250 pages in length, also segments key IDNs in the research by their level of integrated decision-making.

“The healthcare environment continues to evolve before our eyes,” said John Maglione, President and General Manager of HRA – Healthcare Research & Analytics. “Customer channels are changing, as is the focal point of decision-making. Pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers need to keep abreast of this evolution to truly harness its power. Our newest report is designed to help.”

To supplement the release of its newest report, HRA will be hosting an industry-wide webinar on January 29, entitled Unraveling the Layers: IDNs, ACOs, and the Future of Healthcare Integration.

HRA – Healthcare Research & Analytics is a consultative healthcare market research practice leveraging a flexible spectrum of solutions to support decision-making and strategy development across healthcare channels with expertise in the hospital channel. HRA’s team of highly-experienced market researchers combines deep domain expertise in healthcare, science, business, and statistics with a passion for uncovering insights. HRA’s portfolio of offerings encompasses quantitative and qualitative, custom and syndicated market research services to support the business needs of the pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device markets. HRA’s people and its products provide the healthcare market with actionable intelligence – facilitating better business decisions. HRA is a subsidiary of Michael J. Hennessy & Associates, an organization that maintains a unique reach into nearly every sector of healthcare professionals. MJH & Associates combines the power of an established network of publications and websites with the customer service focus and customization capabilities of a boutique firm.

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