Implementing a Communication Plan
Mergers or acquisition from a big corporation to a small facility can be a difficult process for staff to understand. The process if perform incorrectly, with secrecy, and lack of critical information will create an atmosphere of insecurity and fear. A communication plan development is extremely to disseminate fear and confusion, the most important element to communicate if the rationale for the merger and the benefits the combination will bring to the firm and the community. In addition, it is important for the merging firms to know in advance the challenges the merger will bring to the leaders and how these can be minimized with the proper information.
Change Initiatives or Strategic Information to Communicate
Many hospitals are merging to survive the economy, and the various request from federal government programs as these put pressure and the hospitals need capital to implement such changes. Because of this capital needs, many standalone hospitals agree to merge with larger corporations to ensure their continuity in the operation. During the merger process, there is confusion and chaos, employees feel insecure about their current positions with the firm and question if they will stay after the merger is complete. Many questions and little answers from leaders create an atmosphere that is not optimum for production. Four key things to perform to reduce confusion and chaos to the staff are clarification of the rationale for the affiliation, creating value, over-communicate, and blend the cultures.
Clarification rationale for affiliation – identify what the organizations can achieve together that otherwise will be impossible on their own including the organization and community benefits. For example, access to capital, enhanced services and clinical quality, better patient experience and financial benefits.
Create value – healthcare reforms and CMS has place pressure on the hospitals to increase the patient care quality. Leaders should highlight the benefits of the merger in achieving a better patient experience by creating value by reducing readmission rates, utilization of the emergency department, and evaluating the cost per case.
Over-communicate – the reason for the affiliation should be the base for the different communications with key shareholders and the touchstone throughout the process. Leaders should communicate internally with employees, physicians, and shareholders in a transparent manner to prevent uncertainty and fear. Rodak (2011) explains, "One of the big challenges is effectively engaging and communicating with key constituents because a lot of uncertainty and fear is generated by merger or affiliation discussions; each one of those groups is interested in determining how the change will impact them" (p. 1).
Blend cultures – in the merger process an evaluation of cultures is necessary and to prevent a shock for the shareholders the firms need to blend the cultures by adopting the best elements from both organizations creating leverage to benefit the combination of firms. "The commonly cited phrase — culture eats strategy for lunch — applies to merger and acquisition planning. Conducting a formal culture assessment as part of the merger planning process will identify areas of synergy and potential incompatibility and form the basis for a plan to proactively address issues and opportunities to result in a strong culture for the combined organization" (Rodak, 2011, p. 1).
Challenges and Barriers A variety of challenges and barriers could have an impact on these change initiatives. According to Swayne, Duncan and Ginter (2008), mergers or acquisitions among health care organizations create integration challenges such as giving too much power to the local governing board. Additional challenges are aligning resources, achieving operating efficiencies, achieving an effective strategic fit, and cultural integration. They also