Feature articles by: Alan M. Zuckerman, FACHE and Ann Madden Rice, FACHE
Healthcare delivery largely remains a business dominated by a fragmented array of providers, all working in their own silos, with little true integration and communication among them. Traditionally, patient data has been held close to the vest and business models entailed multiple providers individually billing for their unique roles in each episode of care.
Our field is changing now; we are slowly building a new framework of patient-centered care. As our framework changes, organizational structure inherently changes, too. Old structures cannot support patient-centered care or meet the national mandate to slow healthcare cost increases.
Whether driven by the Affordable Care Act, quality mandates, values-based purchasing, or incentive programs, providers are joining forces in organizational structures that support teamwork and sharing of information. Lead author Zuckerman offers results of a survey reporting that "86 percent of hospital leaders expect increased acute care mergers and acquisitions in 2011 alone" (Minich-Pourshadi 2010). Mergers and acquisitions are not new to healthcare providers; however, the breadth and depth at which they are occurring is a novel phenomenon. The organizational lines between hospitals and physician practices are fading as both forge new partnerships.
Successfully forging these close-knit relationships is complicated. Our authors have all walked this path, and three common themes stand out in their pieces. First, success can only be achieved if there is a clear, articulated, shared vision and mission. Zuckerman cautions that "if the vision is hazy," the parties may not have the strength to move through the process successfully. On the same theme, Rice draws on her experience to advise that "a successful and sustainable affiliation must be based on an arrangement that benefits both parties, making it easier for each to achieve its mission." The message: shared mission and shared vision are essential to success.