Medical Device Research at a Regional Health System

Journal Asian Hospital and Healthcare Management
Authors Joseph P Drozda and Timothy R Smith
Year Published 2014
Link to Publication – (PDF)


In 2009, Mercy made the decision to embark on a research programme involving implanted medical devices by employing Unique Device Identifiers (UDIs). Mercy is a four-state regional health system headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri that serves communities in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma through 40 hospitals ranging from small, critical access facilities to large tertiary medical centres. In addition, Mercy employs over 2,000 physicians specialised in multiple disciplines and generates in excess of US$4 billion annually.

Mercy’s Information Journey

In 2006, Mercy began implementing EpicCare (Epic, Verona, WI) Electronic Health Record (EHR) in all of the system’s hospitals and employed physician practices – a process that took over six years to complete which resulted in a ‘fully connected’ health system generating a significant amount of clinical data across the healthcare spectrum. Despite this success, Mercy continues to face challenges in turning these data into actionable information due in part to free-standing clinical and administrative databases such as those contained in the cardiac catheterisation laboratory (Cath Lab) software and the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution. These ‘data islands’ make it difficult to establish a comprehensive view of administrative, clinical processes and of patient outcomes necessary for Mercy leaders to manage in the changing healthcare environment created by US Affordable Care Act (ACA).

New Business Environment and Need for Actionable Information

As healthcare reforms proceed, Mercy must learn to deal with US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) programmes such as value-based purchasing, and public reporting of hospital and physician performance, along with different delivery models, such as patient centered medical homes and Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs). Mercy’s Springfield ( Missouri), network is participating in CMS’s ACO programme building on experience gained from the network’s successes as part of the earlier CMS Physician Group Practice demonstration. Finally, CMS is also working on new reimbursement strategies meant ultimately to replace fee for service. These include shared savings; bundled payments; and, potentially, monthly payments per assigned beneficiary (capitation). All of these changes will require an in-depth understanding of both the clinical and administrative aspects of the business and how the two interrelate.