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Analysis

Clinicians Uneasy About Healthcare M&A Deals, Survey Shows

By Christopher Cheney  
   January 20, 2020

Healthcare organization leaders can pursue clinician-focused strategies to help achieve successful M&A transactions.

A significant proportion of clinicians have a skeptical view of healthcare organization merger and acquisition (M&A) deals, a survey report published recently by LocumTenens.com says.

Hospitals have been involved in a wave of M&A transactions over the past two decades, with studies documenting a spike in deals since 2010. Several other studies have shown that hospital service pricing increases after M&A transactions. A research article published earlier this month found hospital M&A deals do not improve care quality.

The LocumTenens.com survey report, which was published as part of the staffing agency's 2019 Physician and Advanced Practice Salary Report, is based on data collected from more than 3,500 physicians and advanced practice practitioners nationwide. The survey report includes several key data points.

  • 48% of the clinicians surveyed said they did not feel valued by the new organization after an M&A transaction
     
  • 39% of survey respondents said it took more than a year to integrate the organizations involved in an M&A deal
     
  • 39% of respondents did not think leaders placed adequate value on shared culture
     
  • Only 20% of respondents said their organization became more efficient after an M&A deal
     
  • 43% of respondents did not think the cost of care for patients decreased
     
  • 35% of respondents did not think quality of care improved

Clinician participation in M&A deals

Chris Franklin, president of LocumTenens.com, which is a subsidiary of Alpharetta, Georgia-based Jackson Healthcare, recently shared three clinician-focused strategies to achieve effective M&A deals.

1. Valuing medical staff after an M&A deal: The most meaningful action healthcare organization administrators can take to ensure medical staff feel valued after a merger or acquisition is to take a step back and listen, Franklin said.

"Encourage a culture where staff don't feel afraid to voice their opinions, concerns, and fears, and be open to their ideas. The employees are the ones who are most affected by policies and procedures day in and day out. They are knowledgeable and can provide healthcare organizations with a unique perspective and unique solutions to issues likely to arise during consolidation."

2. Promoting a shared culture: An organization's culture is defined by how it lives and models its values and beliefs, he said.

"A first step in a newly consolidated organization promoting a shared culture is reaching common ground on how values and beliefs contribute to achieving mission and vision. Be sure to actively involve medical staff in these conversations rather than disclosing details once they've concluded, and make sure that what emerges from those conversations is woven into every aspect of the organization's behaviors."

3. Amplify clinician voices throughout the M&A process: One of the best ways to amplify clinician voices during a consolidation is to regularly administer brief and anonymous surveys to medical staff, Franklin said.

"If the surveys are anonymous, clinicians are more likely to provide honest feedback. This is also another way to help them feel valued. It's not enough to simply conduct the surveys, though. Administration needs to acknowledge the collective feedback they receive and demonstrate how they are thoughtfully considering solutions and making progress toward resolving any issues that the surveys highlight."

Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care​ editor at HealthLeaders.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

A recently published survey report shows the perspective of clinicians on healthcare M&A deals.

Nearly half of the clinicians surveyed said they did not feel valued by the new organization after an M&A transaction.

Only 1 in 5 of survey respondents said their organization became more efficient after an M&A deal.


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