Physician Alignment = Success for Healthcare Merger & Acquisition

Recently I had been discussing an acquisition of a healthcare system with one of my colleagues. During the discussion it came to light that a challenge for the organization was in understanding the culture and dynamics of the acquired hospitals, clinics, and associated staff.

As the discussion proceeded we agreed that in order for any programs, initiatives, or strategy to be successful that the organization would need to quickly drive physician alignment.

I have witnessed plenty of situations in which the best made business plans and strategies for healthcare organizations have failed due to the lack of physician leadership, alignment, and attitudes.

I believe that in order for an acquisition of hospitals and associated clinics in healthcare to be successful, it is not just about the assets and balance sheet, but more about the people and processes. The biggest hurdle for success is the physicians. If they are not on board, any hope for success will be met with failure.

So how does one go about solving this problem?

In my opinion I believe it is simple. The time needs to be spent going through the entire organization and meeting with as close to as many as “all” the physicians as possible. This may seem like a tall task and major undertaking, but if an organization is spending multimillion to billions of dollars on an acquisition or merger, then this type of due diligence needs to be taken.

This “physician stakeholder assessment” can be simplified. I have had the fortune to do several of these over the years. In one instance I met with 200 physicians, both employed and “partnered,” over the course of 3 days.

At the end of the 3 days I had a good cross section of information to see which physicians were champions, which were neutral, and which were detractors. More importantly I also knew which physicians could be quickly turned into champions, which ones would always stay neutral, and the few physicians that would most likely remain detractors.

With the information I helped the multiple healthcare system create a plan to keep the physician champions, help to develop physicians that were currently neutral into supporters and some neutral physicians into champions. The crucial part was identifying the plan to turn the detractor physicians into neutral.

As for the small group of physicians that could never be moved out of the detractor category, my comment was for the organization to cut their losses as quickly as possible.

In order for their to be success, an inventory of the culture of physicians and employees needs to be understood. It cannot happen at an offsite corporate office, it doesn’t happen in a large staff meeting, and a survey only gives you the feedback you are looking to gain.

The ideal way to accomplish this task is to spend the time with the physicians, ask the right questions, and be honest with the insight and their feedback. Once you understand the culture, work with the supporters and champions to continue to drive things forward. Most importantly, know what you and the organization can commit to performing, and make the tough decision to part with the physicians you know you will never gain their trust and support.

Physicians + People + Process + Insight = Success

As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM

~CancerGeek

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2 responses to “Physician Alignment = Success for Healthcare Merger & Acquisition

  1. I really hate that all this corporate speak has now come to be directed at us physicians as well. I know healthcare is a business and it was just a matter of time before this happened, but it saddens me to think of my future of team building/trust exercises, casual fridays, and layers of bosses over my shoulder. Hell, as I write this I am sitting in my cubicle at the hospital…. sigh

    • I agree that it is difficult that a lot of the corporate jargon is beginning to trickle into healthcare, however, my biggest drive is that this cannot be done in the crystal palace by just those residing in the C-Suite. In order for any healthcare organization to move forward and be successful with any strategy, plan, or initiative, it MUST be physician led, there must be physician champions, and there needs to be investment of time and resources placed to help physicians manage their time, clinical responsibilities, and leadership.

      The key to any healthcare systems success begins and ends with physicians.

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