Truven Health Analytics’ acquisition of Simpler Consulting combines a major force in healthcare performance analytics with a firm boasting a standardized methodology to improve performance in healthcare organizations.

The deal between the private companies, terms of which were not disclosed, also brings a sizable chunk of new healthcare clients to Truven Health, says CEO Michael Boswood. Simpler Consulting has about 100 clients in several industries. Its healthcare unit--principally hospitals and delivery systems--is the largest and represents hundreds of facilities.

Truven Health’s analytical products enable healthcare organizations to measure their performance relative to peers and specific benchmarks. Simpler Consulting offers a five-step process to enable providers, pharmaceutical firms and medical device companies to identify value and remove waste in business operations. The steps cover improved clinical processes, scheduling, morale, productivity, and patient safety/satisfaction.

Buying Simpler Consulting enables Truven Health to fill a huge gap for providers who have the data to analyze but not the opportunity to really use it and find value, says John Osberg, managing partner at Informed Partners LLC, a consultancy specializing in the healthcare mergers and acquisitions market. “It doesn’t matter if you have data if you can’t make the data have an impact.”

Now, Truven’s hospital and clinical divisions will combine into a provider solutions group, with Simpler operating as a separate business within that group and run by Simpler’s entire management team. Whether the cultures match or clash will be the challenge for Truven Health, Osberg believes.

Over time, Truven Health also will have Simpler apply its performance improvement methodology to the company, looking for ways to enhance the analytics services, Boswood says. The acquisition is the first since private equity firm Veritas Capital acquired Truven Health in June 2012, and Boswood expects to make more deals.

Osberg says the acquisition also supports an emerging trend, as about a quarter of large delivery systems are in various stages of implementing a health plan to better coordinate the provision and payment of care under the Affordable Care Act. For large healthcare organizations, “The Kaiser model has won,” he adds. “I think that’s as big an event as the ACA itself. Time will tell.”

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