Mergers and affiliations: Slow down and analyze carefully before signing a deal

By Matt Kuhrt

The changing regulatory and competitive landscape of the healthcare industry makes it tempting for physicians in independent practice to throw in the towel and join forces with a hospital or an affiliate group. When that temptation arises, it's essential to vet potential merger opportunities thoroughly and move deliberately, according to an article in OncLive.

There's no shortage of hospitals and similar large-scale healthcare institutions willing to vacuum up independent practices and the patients who come along with them. This makes it essential that physicians scope out the cultural and administrative setting into which a merger will put doctors, staff and patients, to make sure such an opportunity represents an appropriate fit, in addition to overcoming any legal hurdles.

Successful mergers value their physicians' unique contributions, allowing them to focus more on providing care and leaving the headaches of business administration to people who are more familiar with them, according to the article. Of course, that can also mean burnout comes from a different angle, especially if new or unfamiliar administrative practices have a steep learning curve.

For doctors in particular, moving from a position of total control to being a part of somebody else's organization can be a jarring transition. "This has been very, very good for some people who have been overwhelmed by the amount of business-related activities and administrative activities they have to do in their practice," Cary Presant, M.D., past president of the Association of Community Cancer Centers and currently a hematologist and medical oncologist at City of Hope Medical Group in greater Los Angeles, told the publication. "It's been very bad for others who have liked being in control and suddenly they're not in control anymore."

Getting out of a partnership deal can also be significantly more complicated than getting in, so it pays to work through all the details to make sure the benefits truly outweigh any costs. This is particularly true where hospital organizations enforce noncompete clauses, George Conomikes, head of Conomikes & Associates, a practice consultant in San Diego, California, told OncLive. Such agreements force doctors who decide to go back into independent practice to move to a new area and rebuild their entire practice from scratch.

To learn more:
- read the article

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