Questions about the UAMS-St. Vincent merger | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Questions about the UAMS-St. Vincent merger

Posted By on Tue, Mar 26, 2013 at 6:20 AM

THE VIEW FROM IT: UAMS Vice Chancellor David Miller on health combine.
  • THE VIEW FROM IT: UAMS Vice Chancellor David Miller on health combine.
Leslie Newell Peacock's continued probing behind the scenes of work on a potential combination of UAMS and St. Vincent Infirmary continues to turn up cautionary remarks within UAMS.

The latest is a memo from David Miller, vice chancellor and chief information officer at UAMS, giving IT employees his assessment of talks to date on a combination of many services of the two institutions.

Key points:

1) The combine would be a "joint venture," with a separate governing board comprising equal representation from UAMS and St. Vincent, but "no scenario that is currently under consideration" calls for any part of UAMS to come under the management of St. Vincent or its parent Catholic Health Initiatives. (Editor's note: Yes, but, the third party governing body would be half St. Vincent representatives, which surely counts for some influence.)

2) "No one within UAMS has been able to re-create the opportunity numbers in the Deloitte report." Leslie will do more reporting on this reference to a consultant's study on the potential benefit of a combination. When that report was released UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn said it suggests "real financial opportunities" in the form of savings between $38 and $63 million.

3) Miller saw "little to no value" to UAMS in using Catholic Health Initiative's health information exchange. He said UAMS has a better program for statewide information exchange and has no need to spend still more money to move to the Catholic system.

4) Other information in the Deloitte report relating to IT "cannot be justified or calculated based on any information that we have ..."

Read the full memo on the jump.

From: Miller, David L
Sent: Thursday, March 21, 2013 3:06 PM
To: IT Directors
Subject: Staff memo

Please review and comment.

Staff Memo

There has been a great deal of news coverage lately regarding UAMS. Most of it is focused on a potential affiliation between UAMS and St. Vincent Health System. As a result of this, and the report from Deloitte regarding the feasibility of such an affiliation, I am hearing that there is a great deal of angst among the IT staff concerning its potential impact on us.

I was present at the last meeting between UAMS, St. Vincent's and Deloitte. I have also reviewed in detail the report and, in fact, am preparing for Dr. Rahn my evaluation of the information as regards IT. I have had multiple conversations with Dr. Rahn on this subject, and would like to give you my perspective (and this is my opinion only) on how I see this playing out.

First of all, any affiliation will likely be in the form of a joint venture, meaning that a new third-party organization would be created separate from either organization, with a governing board consisting of equal numbers of representatives from both parties. In no scenario that is currently under consideration will any part of UAMS come under the management of St. Vincent's or its parent entity Catholic Health Initiatives.

Secondly, any financial or business arrangement would have to be approved by the governor and the University of Arkansas’ Board of Trustees, who are very protective of this asset called UAMS. There will need to be a clear rationale and return on investment to move this forward to any extent. No one within UAMS has been able to re-create the opportunity numbers in the Deloitte report.

Regarding IT specifically, I have thoroughly investigated the particulars in the report and have drawn the following conclusions:

1. The opportunity to take advantage of CHI's enterprise health information exchange holds little to no value to UAMS. They are using a product From Orion Health that has less functionality than the product that Arkansas selected for its own statewide exchange, which is a product from Optum Insight. Since we are already moving forward with contributing to the state exchange, there is no reason for us to incur the considerable expense to implement Orion.

2. I have assurances from the highest level of the organization that under no circumstances are we going to stop the UConnect project and to switch now or at any other time to Cerner.

3. The numbers in the Deloitte report cannot be justified or calculated based on any information that we have regarding either our own EMR project or estimates of a Cerner implementation. Deloitte has told us that their figures were based on a model that they created and could be off as much as 30% or more.

I know that there are other concerns within the IT staff. There have been some reports of potential budget cuts based on possible reductions of our state appropriation, but as of this writing the prevailing thinking is that that will not happen either in fiscal 2014 or fiscal 2015. This morning, Mary Nell and I had our budget meeting with the Chancellor and, in my opinion, we will not see any reduction in our budget, though the possibility exists that we will also not see any growth. I continue to be hopeful that the strong support from the Chancellor regarding IT will continue. There is broad recognition across the senior management team of the value that we bring to the table and the importance of IT to accomplish the strategic initiatives of UAMS.

We have scheduled an all staff meeting for Monday, April 1. Please make all efforts to attend. If you have specific questions or subjects that you would like to have addressed at that time, please do not hesitate to send them my way. I look forward to speaking with you then.


David L. Miller, MHSA, FHIMSS, CHCIO
Vice Chancellor and Chief Information Officer
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

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