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2 Michigan health information companies prepare to merge

Bringing resources together for the benefit of companies, employees and customers can be a complex undertaking. Mergers are both exciting and overwhelming. They involve complex legal issues and the resolution of thousands -- if not hundreds of thousands -- of small discrepancies between merging organizations. Contracting with professionals to ensure everything during a merge goes smoothly is always a good idea.

For two Michigan-based health information exchanges, a merger could mean a reduction in discrepancies and increased efficiencies for thousands of medical providers. The exchanges are not healthcare insurance exchanges. The companies are among a group of businesses that provide medical practices with a way to exchange information securely and easily.

Increasing the efficiency with which hospitals and physicians can exchange patient data decreases costs for all and increases the level of care that patients receive. Information exchanges help with referrals or let health teams of multiple specialists manage complex cases.

According to statistics, there are over 250 health information exchanges in the country. More than half of those exchanges are privately owned. Reports indicate only 60 exchanges actively exchange data and only around 40 percent of those exchanges are appropriately funded. The need for increased data exchange and the economic woes faced by some exchanges have resulted in numerous mergers in the niche.

The latest reported merger will be between Michigan Health Connect and Great Lakes Health Information Exchange. The merger, which parties expect to be final as of March 31, will create one of the largest health information exchanges in the country. Combined, the organizations represent membership from 2,000 physician offices and almost all of the state's hospitals.

Source: Crain's Detroit Business, "Merger of 2 health information exchanges could create one of nation's largest" Jay Greene, Jan. 20, 2014

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