Health care organizations are faced with one of the greatest challenges in providing health care services to the people. The institution, as well as the federal government for that matter, has been receiving criticisms over the past years about how it is able to provide the kind of quality health care services to everyone who will need them despite their social or economic status. Apparently, the health care system is unable to provide what the people expect from it. It is unable to meet the ideal features or characteristics of the health care industry as a public service institution.
This failure on the part of the health care organization is blamed on its inability to cope with medical, scientific, and technological changes that grow rapidly as more and more people, the growing demand for health care services, and the poor organization of the health care system. Since the demand to transform health care organizations has been realized by the institution, it has started to commit to implement changes within the system to improve how it provides services and meet expectations from its constituents.
(Institute of Medicine, 2001) Integration or consolidation within or among health organizations is one possible alternative or option to resolve the shortcomings of the institution. Integration or consolidation refers to the process wherein health care organizations, particularly private institutions, consolidate or integrate the services they can offer in order to combine their strengths and advantages to improve the structure and dimensions of health care services.
Health care organizations may go about the integration or consolidation process in many ways. One would be for a health care organization to acquire value-added facilities or technological systems that are instrumental to improving health care services, undergo mergers with other health care organizations, and transforming health care policies and standards in order to eliminate the restrictions or limitations that regulate individuals or situations that the organization is allowed to provide service to.
The first option has something to do with expanding the facilities and services that the organization is able to provide by acquiring them from various sources. One example would be the Allscripts acquisition of Extended Care Information Network or ECIN. Allscripts is one of the major providers of softwares, programs, or applications that are used in enhancing healthcare services in the area of clinical services, information technology, and connectivity systems.
On the other hand, ECIN provides health care organizations with softwares, programs, or applications that oversee health care management and discharge planning. (Allscripts, 2008) Health care organizations will benefit from the merger of the two institutions by acquiring value-added facilities and services from both institutions, obtaining the best of both worlds. The second option looks into the integration of two health care organizations, or hospitals into a single independent institution.
Since combining total resources of two hospitals or health organizations lessen the amount allocated for total expenses, the merged health care institution becomes capable of providing added services and accumulating or servicing more people than they could have if they carry on privately and individually. (Kim, et. al. , 2004) The third option for integration or consolidation has something to do with eliminating restrictions in providing health care services, especially for private health care institutions.
Some private health care organizations are affiliated with religious institutions limiting the population of individuals who are able to access health care services according to their religious positions. (Merger Watch, 2005) Integrating or consolidation by means of eliminating all boundaries widens the coverage not only of health care services from facilities, but also the insurance plans that are able to acknowledge the rights of human beings to afford aforementioned services by not setting standards or guidelines that they should follow in terms of not only religion, but also race and ethnicity, educational background, and such.
Health care integration and consolidation has improved the health care system tremendously. However, it still has some disadvantages that might put the health care institution and its constituents at risk. For instance, some professionals see that hospital mergers will not reduce the cost of health care services for patients. Even if health care organizations decide to merge, the bearing of the economy on canceled health insurance plans will retain the current cost of these services.
(Gedan, 2007) Although the interest or appeal of health care integration and consolidation might be affected by this particular disadvantage, its benefits and advantages still outweigh the risks. Overall, health care integration and consolidation have been found out to positively influence the safety, efficiency, fairness, profitability, and the inclination of the health care institution to become patient-centered. For instance, the merge between two health care institutions will likely to combine their strengths and advantages in terms of resources, human capital, knowledge or information available, access to affiliates, and such.
Health care integration and consolidation means that a merged independent institution acquires all necessary resources and obtains a wider network to partners, donors, and such from both merged institutions, making the services highly efficient and therefore safe for its patients. In addition, expanding or improving services is within the concept of a patient-centered health care institution, motivating individuals to afford health care services, impacting the profitability of the business.
(Cuellar & Gertler, 2005) References Cuellar, A. & Gertler, P. (2005). How the expansion of hospital systems has affected consumers. Health Affairs, 24, 213. Gedan, B. (14 December). Hospitals merger may not reduce patient costs. McClatchy – Tribune Business News. Retrieved August 23, 2008 from ProQuest. Institute of Medicine. (2001). Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Retrieved August 23, 2008 from http://www. iom.
edu/CMS/8089/5432/27184. aspx Kim, et. al (2004). The Influence of Hospital Integration on Hospital Financial Performance. Retrieved December 1, 2008, from Gale. Website: http://www. accessmylibrary. com/coms2/summary_0286-14517152_ITM Allscripts. (2008). Allscripts Acquires Extended Care Information Network. Hospital Business Week, 36. Retrieved August 23, 2008, from ProQuest. Merger Watch (2005). Religious Health Restrictions. Retrieved August 23, 2008 from http://mergerwatch. org/religious_restrictions. html