Boston University Researchers Formulate Framework for Successful Hospital Mergers and Systems Integration

Examining integration strategies in hospital systems

From 2001 until 2003, Project Director Alan Cohen, ScD, and co-investigators from Boston University studied the dynamics of hospital mergers and systems integration.

Drawing from the literature and interviews with five "real-world" examples of integrated systems, they formulated a new conceptual framework for successful systems integration across eight dimensions: strategic vision, governance, leadership, culture/values, financial systems, clinical systems, information systems, and support functions.

Key Results/Findings

  • The research team defined a new conceptual framework for hospital integration that captures the complexity of integration efforts.

  • Project staff developed qualitative measures to assess the extent of integration on the eight organizational dimensions.

  • The team identified four external forces that can facilitate or impede a hospital's decision to integrate. The team also identified five equally important factors internal to the hospital.

  • According to the researchers, governance, leadership, organizational culture and values, and strategic vision are key to successful integration.

  • The researchers derived four hypotheses for predicting success in a hospital merger or integration.

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