Health Information Management

Mergers and acquisitions: Health system considers information security pre- and post-merger

HIM-HIPAA Insider, May 4, 2015

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Mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare industry are often decided upon and negotiated by C-suite staff with involvement from security and IT professionals. However, both parties must consider significant security implications prior to, during, and after a merger or acquisition. Security officers are often best suited to dig deep into the information security standards of a facility to identify risks and develop a plan for streamlining security programs between the acquirer and the organization being acquired.

"Security needs to be there at the table," says Rick Ensenbach, CISSP-ISSMP, CISA, CISM, CCSFP, manager of Wipfli, LLP, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. "They may not have to be there with the rest of the C-level organization, but they need to be one of the partners that are brought in at the appropriate times."
 
That said, security officers should be mindful that a merger or acquisition is a business decision, and security is just one of many factors both organizations must consider, says Ensenbach.
 
Aspirus Healthcare, a nonprofit health system based in Wausau, Wisconsin, has been actively acquiring or merging with a new facility in its area approximately every 12–18 months for several years, according to Wayne Pierce, information security officer at Aspirus. He has refined a checklist that outlines information security tasks and considerations before, after, and during a merger or acquisition.
 
Because each facility acquired by Aspirus is unique, the required information security actions will vary. "Have a plan for when things don't go according to plan," Pierce says.
 
Continue reading "Mergers and acquisitions: Health system considers information security pre- and post-merger" on the HCPro website. Subscribers to Briefings on HIPAA have free access to this article in the May issue.



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