Mergers and acquisitions have become commonplace in healthcare today. According to Healthcare Dive, when it comes to deal volume, healthcare ranks third, behind only the energy and media entertainment sectors. A variety of factors have fueled this rampant M&A activity over the past few years. Population health management efforts have caused fewer patient admissions and lower reimbursements. Plus, organizations are faced with the challenge of needing to improve outcomes while reducing costs as a result of value-based care. Smaller organizations struggle, and end up merging with larger entities to stay viable.
When two healthcare organizations come together, maintaining success (and sanity) from a clinical integration standpoint relies on a number of factors. Here are four ways a physician liaison or business development representative might assist in easing the clinical transition post-merger:
Help physicians understand the reasoning behind the merger, as well as where it’s headed. Be transparent with your communication and share exactly why the merger happened, and what their focus should be now. Jeff Ashkenase stated in Becker’s Hospital Review, that, “Understanding the initial drivers of a merger will help identify the priorities and the challenges an organization will face after the transaction is completed.” Armed with the right information and data, physician liaisons can help providers prioritize decisions and adjust their course of action accordingly.
Do the Work
Allison McCarthy of Barlow/McCarthy stated that the end of the acquisition is just the beginning in her article, “Onboarding for Practice Acquisitions”. This is where the real work begins. Often, the responsibility for post-acquisition clinical integration becomes the responsibility of business development. A lot of energy and attention is directed at making the deal happen, so once it does, keeping the physician practices successful needs to be approached with the same amount of rigor. Many areas – such as operations, clinical practice and finance – need to be addressed, but the physician liaison can really aid in the marketing aspect. You can work with the newly acquired physicians to manage communication and referrals.
Plan for Culture Clash and Staff Anxiety
When two entities become one, there’s bound to be differences in culture, no matter how well the cultural fit was examined prior to the acquisition. According to Kristen Boehm, MD, Physician Advisor at Nexera (also mentioned in the Becker’s Hospital Review article), “Cultures that are dissimilar can comingle, but it’s a question of being prepared for the challenges that are inevitably going to come.”
To curb the cultural clash, it’s important to plan ahead. Dr. Boehm goes on to recommend that organizations should spend time creating a unified mission and identify an administrative hierarchy to carry out that vision. It’s important for leadership to visibly and consistently support the new message and engage in ongoing dialogue with staff and clinicians throughout the process.
Also, both during and after an acquisition, it’s likely that staff at all levels will be anxious about job security and their place in the organization. This can also affect the culture. Addressing these concerns as early and as often as possible will help make integration go much more smoothly.
Help Get Physician Buy-In
Perhaps your most important role during and after a merger is being a champion for your physicians. Having someone who not only listens to their worries, wants and needs during this process – but someone who also addresses those concerns – will help them get on board for the organizational change. You can help other staff truly embrace the new organization, according to Dr. Boehm.
As the article states, “A clinically integrated team improves care coordination and quality, creates efficiencies and reduces costs, in turn allowing providers to negotiate contracts more effectively and achieve value-based care goals.”
Contact us today and get the data you need to make any post-merger integration go smoothly.