Tips for improving physician integration culture

The most sensitive aspect of physician employment, co-management, or merger is, arguably, the cultural clash that occurs between hospitals and physicians. To alleviate the challenges of hospital-physician integration, focus on leadership, teamwork, and communication, reports Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) magazine.

By 2013, less than one-third of physician practices will remain independent, having elected to join larger hospital systems, according to a recent Accenture Health report.

In addition, healthcare mergers and acquisitions has hit an all- time high in terms of dollar value.

Making the most of this trend, merger and acquisition deals are 26 percent more likely to be successful if all participants pay attention to resolving cultural differences, according to a 1999 KPMG study, reports the HFMA article.

Culture can run the gamut of treatment of patients, referring physicians, and employees; decision-making process; performance rewards; risk; and quality and costs. Hospitals and physicians should identify these cultural differences even before integration takes place, said Mike Valentine, a cardiologist from Lynchburg, Va., in the article.

Just as important is identifying who the leaders are in the physician practice and the hospital. The merging organizations should use these representatives to drive the process and communicate every step to each other. The article suggests that, together, hospitals and physicians develop a measurable vision, understand the joint agreement, implement an organizational communication plan, analyze results, and measure cultural alignment.

For more:
- read the HFMA article

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