Radiology admins: Negotiate with potential hires using multiple equivalent simultaneous offers

Radiology directors and administrators should consider adding the multiple equivalent simultaneous offer (MESO) to their arsenal of negotiating strategies, according to an article published this month in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

A previous article in JACR written by Jonathan Berlin, M.D., and Frank Lexa, M.D., talked about how negotiating is a critical part of the healthcare environment. In this article, Rich Heller, M.D., of the department of radiology at Oak Lawn, Ill.-based Advocate Children's Hospital, aims to supplement the fundamental negotiating strategies and techniques discussed in that article with additional strategy. The concept of the MESO, Heller writes, is "straight forward," and involves making multiple offers with several variables instead of one single offer.

For example, such a negotiation might involve a candidate applying for a job with a radiology practice. The manager could offer the applicant a $150,000 salary with seven weeks of vacation, or make multiple equivalent offers--such as a $200,000 salary with four weeks of vacation, or $100,000 with 10 weeks of vacation.

The advantages? People prefer choices, and research has shown that using MESOs in an offer was more likely to result in a position accepted than if a single offer was made. Further research has shown that in the case of MESOs, the party offering the deal usually was able to secure a better outcome, and do so while appearing to be flexible.

MESOs, the study's authors say, also allow radiology managers to discover and test information about the other negotiating party. For example, according to Heller, while a client hospital might indicate that it values services like 24/7 in-house pediatric radiology coverage, when that is included as a variable in a MESO, it may become more apparent that cost and turnaround times actually are a hospital's major concerns.

It also tests the accuracy of what the negotiating partner is saying. Heller points out, for example, that a vendor might indicate it can't sell a piece of equipment below a certain price. When the terms are varied in multiple equivalent simultaneous offers, however, it may become clear that vendor is willing and able to go below that price. Or, while it may be discovered that the vendor can't go below a certain price, the offer could include variables like maintenance and service. This expands the negotiable pie and increases the chance of finding a more mutually beneficial solution, Heller writes.

"Remember," Heller concludes, "negotiations are often when value-creating activities are quantified. Understanding effective negotiation strategies, such as MESOs, can help claim that value."

To learn more:
- see Heller's article in the Journal of the American College of Radiology
- check out the article by Berlin and Lexa in JACR

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