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The Secret Ingredient in Healthcare Mergers and Acquisitions: Change Management

Making it out of 2020 is certainly a welcome milestone, if only for some psychological relief. 2020 left behind a ravaged landscape for a variety of industries, businesses, and ways of life. The healthcare industry continues to be a focal point of this change as leaders try to make sense of last year and plot a path moving forward.

One key trend we’re seeing in the healthcare space is acquisitions. While the industry is no stranger to M&A activity, new reasons for these changes are coming to the forefront. Demand for healthcare services has shifted from low acuity points of care such as primary care physicians’ offices toward higher acuity facilities like outpatient surgery centers, partly due to the fact that many Americans skipped out on wellness visits during the pandemic and now are in need of greater care. Healthcare organizations have begun to realize a need to incorporate these high acuity outpatient facilities into their businesses to capitalize on this trend. Texas-based Tenet Healthcare is already well on its way to acquiring up to 40 surgical centers this year alone.

Other organizations are finding attractive opportunities to assist struggling, critical points of care in smaller communities, while simultaneously expanding their own reach. Cleveland Clinic recently integrated Mercy Medical Center in Canton, OH into its network. The 476-bed facility had been slammed by low patient volumes throughout 2020 leading to a looming financial crisis.

On the payor side, and in a massive technology and analytics play, Optum recently acquired Change Healthcare in a $13 billion deal. These factors indicate a hotter acquisition and joint venture market as we wade further into the uncertain waters of 2021. With acquisitions come myriad challenges that can trickle down to the most important part of any focused healthcare organization: delivering quality care. Studies demonstrate that the quality of care delivery at recently acquired hospitals tends to fall or stay the same following a change in ownership.

These high stakes call for business partners who can effectively manage change. Prosci®, a 25+ year old change management research firm, has conducted extensive studies on the effectiveness of implementing change management tactics, and their results speak for themselves. Projects with excellent change management effectiveness are six times more likely to meet or exceed their objectives than projects with poor change management tactics. Their research has also shown that implementing change management saves time and money – perennial key concerns that are even more important in today’s uncertain environment.

Let’s not forget that mergers and acquisitions for healthcare organizations translate into meaningful impacts on providers such as doctors, nurses, PAs, and many others. These individuals have already endured massive changes over the past year, shifting their normal responsibilities to fighting off the relentless pandemic. Healthcare organizations embarking on an acquisition must ensure a smooth transition process for these already fatigued employees.

With this kind of responsibility on the line, healthcare organizations need not face the challenges of an acquisition alone. InfoWorks is here to help. Many of our consultants are certified Prosci® Change Management Practitioners who understand how to make stressful acquisitions a smoother process. We combine our competencies with a deep healthcare industry background to deliver results for our clients. Our consultants have helped businesses achieve success by applying the Prosci® 3-phase process, preparing our clients for change so that they are equipped to meet challenges and resistance, managing the change as it occurs, and reinforcing the change so that the ultimate goals can be permanently achieved.

Whether your organization is preparing for a blockbuster acquisition or a smaller but impactful change, we’d love to help ensure you accomplish your objectives. Contact us so we can get the conversation started.