Consolidations and Infrastructures: Healthcare Innovation Boosted by COVID-19

July 10, 2024
Gillian Vendittelli

Consolidation is not a new concept in healthcare; however, there is a recent wave of M&A occurring post-pandemic faster than previous years. The pandemic was a catalyst for change across every aspect of healthcare. The unexpected increase in demand for healthcare highlighted weak spots in operations and care accessibility. To bolster healthcare efforts, systems merged to combine resources, share skill sets, reduce cost, increase access, and become more digital.

💼Effects of Consolidation

While the goal of consolidation is to improve healthcare, combining hospital systems does come with its challenges. 

One of the considerable challenges is combining hospital system infrastructures. Some of the areas impacted include:

  • Technology Applications
  • Caregiver Workflows
  • Communication Methods
  • Physician Compensation Models
  • Re-orgs

Despite the challenges, consolidation presents hospital systems with the opportunity to standardize, simplify, and streamline, which you can read more about here. Since systems will already have to adjust operations, why not leverage the shift to improve operations rather than select the lesser of two obstacles and force systems to talk to each other?

🚀The Role of Innovation

Despite the challenges of consolidation, innovation replaces the word challenges with opportunities. Opportunities to: enhance, improve, and create something new!

At the heart of innovation is disruption. It challenges the status quo and norms, making change an ideal catalyst for innovation: a time of change with exposed opportunities. 

Healthcare is also undergoing a digital transformation, making this time of transformation and consolidation a perfect pairing to innovate!

Identifying which opportunity to act upon first, allocating changing resources, and creating an environment for innovation can be a complex and timely task in an already busy industry. 

Cue WynHouse.

To highlight innovation’s role, let’s walk through a past project of WynHouse that is a clear example of an exposed opportunity to innovate that happens to also have come from the pandemic.

In a time of stretched resources, influx of patients, and finite time, Bon Secours Mercy Health detected an opportunity for innovation.

Mercy Health realized inefficiencies in their broad compliance tracking activities:

  • Infection prevention (IP) technicians manually, by pen-and-paper, recording and tracking physicians, nurses, and hospital staff compliance.
  • Inaccurate data recording causes delays in compliance audits and processing.

WynHouse collaborated with Mercy Health to evaluate current compliance processes to

  • Identify the root cause of compliance tracking inefficiencies
  • Propose solutions and starting points to enhance compliance activities

Through effective strategy and planning, WynHouse and Mercy Health were able to identify an innovation opportunity to

  • Increase data collection and accuracy
  • Reduce errors and automate the data recording process

In partnership, WynHouse and Mercy Health developed and piloted a mobile application and analytics dashboard to 

  • Enhance hand hygiene (HH) and personal protective equipment (PPE) compliance tracking. 
  • Integrate directly into other IP tools and data visualization software. 

As a result,

  • 98% user satisfaction rate

  • The application suite was deployed across the hospital network of 31 facilities.

Since the initial iteration, the digital tool has gone on to

  • Future iterations to include broader compliance tracking activities, like CLABSI
  • Be commercialized in partnership with Mercy Health

🌍Midwestern Perseverance 

Michigan is no stranger to pandemic-encouraged consolidations. 

In June 2021, Spectrum and Beaumont announced its merger to become what is now known as Corewell Health.

  • Spectrum -> Corewell Health West
  • Beaumont -> Corewell Health East
  • Corewell Health South (newly formed)

In April 2023, Sparrow Health merged with Michigan Medicine

In October 2023, Henry Ford Health announced a joint venture with Ascension South-East Michigan and Genesys to increase access to care.

In September 2023, HFH also announced a partnership with the Gilbert Family Foundation to bring Shirley Ryan AbilityLab to Detroit

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