- Five months after 3M announced it was considering strategic alternatives for its Health Information Systems unit, the St. Paul, Minn.-based firm has decided to retain and invest in the business. Although it doesn’t market a standalone electronic health records system, 3M Health Information Systems offers data interoperability products and services, including a controlled medical vocabulary server and terminology/data mapping consulting.
Inge Thulin, 3M president and CEO, described last fall’s exploratory review — which weighed the options of spinning off, selling or retaining 3M Health Information Systems — as “part of our ongoing portfolio management process.” Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs advised on the assessment.
Thulin explained in a public statement, “As a result of this process, we have determined that retaining this business and further investing in it as a part of 3M provides the best opportunity for 3M Health Information Systems, already a healthy and rapidly growing business, to derive even greater long-term value. We are committed to continued innovation in healthcare information systems and helping providers and payers improve patient outcomes while reducing the total cost of care.”
The Health Information Systems business posted $760 million in sales in 2015, up 11 percent from the prior fiscal year. 3M said the unit’s revenues have grown more than 10 percent compounded over the past decade — although they only account for slightly more than 2 percent of the parent company’s worldwide sales. The health information systems business employs about 1,500 workers, the majority of which are located in Murray, Utah, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reported.
Perhaps best known for its computer-assisted coding products, 3M Health Information Systems also specializes in clinical documentation improvement, performance monitoring, quality outcomes reporting and terminology management. It has a client base of approximately 5,000 hospitals, along with additional government customers.
Matt Arnold, an analyst at Edward Jones, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that 3M’s additional investments in the health information systems unit should “keep it growing at a healthy pace.”
Specific to interoperability, 3M services help healthcare organizations map, translate and standardize patient data; match persons and patient data; keep vocabulary standards and terminologies current; and facilitate access to lifetime patient records. The business unit also offers applications to support document imaging, electronic signatures, chart retrieval and other medical record management tasks.
In December 2015, 3M Health Information Systems provided feedback on the 2016 Interoperability Standards Advisory published by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). In its response, 3M described the advisory as “step in the right direction on the continued path in reaching interoperability,” but suggested inclusion of a clearly defined use case for each interoperability need presented in ONC’s document.
Additionally, 3M called for ONC to “provide guidance in the implementation of large terminologies (e.g., SNOMED CT) and those with difficult nomenclature (e.g., LOINC) so that implementers with minimal terminology expertise are able to understand the intended use of the terminology for each interoperability need.”
3M also recommended that ONC’s advisory should include reference links to regulatory guidance pertaining to IT standards designated as regulatory initiatives.