One of the biggest changes a hospital or health system can go through is a consolidation, or merger. From trying to determine how the newly-merged hospitals will be branded, trying to convey that branding to all staff and providers, preserving jobs, and more, the pain and stress of a consolidation is unfortunately felt by all within an organization.
With 2016 upon us, many wish for what will probably not happen in the world of healthcare for a while — they wish for a stable industry. The constant advances and changes in medicine in order to help patients is one thing. The tumultuous nature of mergers and consolidations is completely different. According to John Commins’ HealthLeaders Media article “Hospital Consolidation 2016 Forecast: ‘More of the Same,’” the hope for calmer waters in healthcare isn’t likely to be realized in 2016.
Commins and HealthLeaders Media connected with Kit Kamholz, the managing director with Skokie, Illinois-based Kaufman Hall. According to Kamholz, the rate of consolidations won’t necessarily increase; however, there won’t be a decrease in mergers, either. Kamholz also notes that the hospitals most likely to face consolidation this year, and for years ahead, are smaller hospitals in smaller communities.
Not all community or rural hospitals will face consolidation, of course. For those that will, however, communication is key. Healthcare leaders, aided by communication professionals, can control the messaging surrounding a merger by keeping channels of communication open. Transparency is critical; so is the opportunity for two-way communication. Employees, and other key stakeholders (e.g. patients, community) need to have an opportunity to ask questions and get answers during what can be a very trying time.
Healthcare leaders need to communicate with providers and nurses to address their concerns—and to arm them with information that they can use to answer any questions or concerns patients may have about their care. Likewise, in order to keep talented staff and providers united and committed to staying with your organization, leaders need to listen to their ideas and concerns, and openly discuss new developments in a possible or impending consolidation.
Hiding information will only create distrust within your hospital, and in the community you’re working hard to keep healthy. If you don’t have the support of your team and your community, the outcome of a merger is unlikely to serve anyone’s needs.
Consolidations have become part of the healthcare world, and they aren’t going away. What are you doing to prepare your staff and community for a possible merger? For those of you who have already been involved in a merger, or consolidation, what did you do to ensure a smooth transition? Share here!