How Healthcare Mergers and Acquisitions Impact Clinical Data

By Q-Centrix | June 10, 2024

Key Takeaways: 

  • Meticulous planning and robust data management strategies are essential to address changes in data governance, access, and security during M&As. 
  • Centralizing data management and establishing system-wide metrics facilitate comprehensive data sharing and meaningful comparisons across facilities. 
  • Addressing the challenges of integrating organizational cultures and aligning new policies and procedures is crucial for a smooth transition. 
  • Collaborating with external partners and regularly assessing registry participation provides valuable insights and helps align operations for effective change management during M&As. 


Deborah Wolf, senior director of clinical outcomes at Corewell Health, describes the process of merging data systems as “piecing together a massive puzzle.” Leaders like Deborah find themselves grappling with these puzzles more frequently, with 20 such merger and acquisition transactions announced in the first quarter of 2024—the highest uptick since 2020.   

To better understand the impact of these transactions on clinical data management, Q-Centrix surveyed healthcare leaders on their experiences. While the challenges were apparent, leaders shared that when managed well, these activities can lead to significant advancements in data management, optimized participation, and improved patient care.  

For a closer look at these stories and the practical advice these leaders provided, read the full white paper: Prioritizing healthcare data integration during mergers and acquisitions. 


Key Complexities of Clinical Data Integration 

Survey results revealed that more than a third of respondents felt their facility was unprepared for the M&A transition. What were their top concerns?  

Nearly half of all respondents highlighted changes in data governance and access as a primary impact of their M&A activities, underscoring the need for meticulous planning and robust data management strategies. 

Improved data security also emerged as a primary concern. These worries are well founded, as research indicates hospitals undergoing M&As are twice as likely to experience data breaches. 

Other top challenges faced by healthcare leaders during M&As were: 

  • Integrating organizational cultures 
  • Aligning new policies and procedures 
  • Managing changes in leadership and structure 


Centralizing Data Management 

Deborah and the team at Corewell Health prioritized centralizing data during their merger to enable comprehensive data sharing and metric comparison across facilities.  

“Our CEO would ask, ‘How do we compare to everybody else?’” she said. “We decided on our priorities for the whole health system—what would be our metrics that matter?”  

Survey findings support Deborah’s experiences.  

87% of respondents indicated that M&A activities changed how their facility managed clinical data. These transitions force leaders to reexamine the effectiveness of their data collection processes and evaluate the utility of the data they gather. 

Despite these efforts, only 39% of respondents felt they had achieved centralized data management systems by the end of the process. 

This feedback highlights several key priorities for successful data integration: 

  1. Setting Clear Priorities: Establishing system-wide metrics that matter to all facilities helps create a unified approach to data management. 
  2. Centralizing Data: Organizations can facilitate better data sharing and more meaningful comparisons across different sites by centralizing clinical data. 
  3. Ensuring Data Integrity: Robust data management practices are essential to maintain the accuracy and security of clinical data during and after the merger. 


Addressing Registry Participation 

Registry participation is another critical aspect of clinical data management during M&As. The average hospital participates in 5-10 registries. M&As can amplify this number, sometimes leading to duplicative efforts.  

Without a structured method of gathering input from all corners of the organization, overcoming the blind spots that naturally occur in registry participation is all but impossible.    

For that reason, many health systems find value in working with an external partner to help them use their data to prepare their facility or system for effective change. The insights generated by this assessment process deliver an unbiased analysis that provides key insights for health systems to align operations to high-value change activities.   


Cultural and Technical Considerations 

Over half of the survey respondents cited cultural integration as a major barrier during M&As. A leader from Carle Health System highlighted the importance of addressing cultural and communication aspects to ensure a smooth transition as part of the white paper cited above.  

“It’s the cultural aspects, and the communication aspects, and the questions that come up around autonomy and control,” he said. “Oftentimes, that’s where you’re going to spend most of your time.” 

This sentiment is echoed in the survey findings, with 47% of respondents facing challenges with data governance and access changes. Another 33% struggled with integrating data between disparate systems, underscoring the technical hurdles of these transitions. 

Balance is crucial for any integration process. Leaders should prioritize what is essential for the entire organization while also identifying areas where individual teams and markets can make their own decisions based on their specific needs. 



Despite the inherent challenges, 39% of respondents reported improved data sharing and collaboration as a major benefit of the M&A process. Effective handling of clinical data can lead to significant organizational improvements.  

The findings from the Q-Centrix survey and discussions with industry leaders underscore the importance of careful planning, prioritizing data integration, and addressing technical and cultural challenges. As healthcare organizations continue to navigate these transitions, a strategic approach to clinical data management will be crucial in ensuring successful outcomes. 

For more detailed insights and findings, refer to the full white paper on prioritizing healthcare data integration during mergers and acquisitions here​​.