Here’s a look at how to improve your hospital’s organizational alignment from top to bottom and why getting this right could be the key to meeting your annual strategic goals.
By Brian Dailey
I recently finished David McCullough's "The Path Between The Seas," an overview of the planning and construction of the Panama Canal. The scale of the human effort put into this project is incomprehensible, but there is much to be learned from it about leadership, organizational alignment, and the importance of communication.
One way to think about alignment and communication is partnership. In the lead up to the construction of the canal, William Gorgas was sent to Panama to deal with the problem of malaria and yellow fever. At the turn of the 20th century, many were still skeptical of the connection between these diseases and mosquitoes. When Gorgas tried to advocate for resources to reduce the mosquito population, he was constantly met with resistance and skepticism. Even though it was his job to reduce the tropical diseases that ravaged the canal worker population, he was unable to do so because his peers viewed him as a challenge to be overcome, not a partner in the construction of the canal.
The first Chief Engineer of the canal, John Wallace, saw Gorgas as an annoyance. As an engineer, he was concentrating on "making the dirt fly" and did not consider Gorgas's medical background to be helpful with this effort. It wasn't until John Stevens became Chief Engineer that Gorgas was taken seriously. Stevens viewed Gorgas as a partner in a humanitarian effort. Once Gorgas was given the requested resources he was able to quickly eliminate cases of yellow fever.
Partnership—among individuals, departments, and other organizations—is pivotal to the success of any venture, whether it's placing a new outpatient clinic or connecting the Pacific to the Atlantic over fifty miles of mosquito-infested jungle. So how do we cultivate partnerships?
Healthcare mergers and acquisitions across the US continue at a rapid pace. According to Becker's Hospital Review, about $2.35 trillion in deals occurred globally [in 2018], up 57 percent compared to the same period last year. “Whether it’s hospitals buying up independent medical practices, hospital systems swallowing one another, or insurance companies merging with pharmacy chains, the prevailing attitude now is that bigger is better,” Medical Economics.
Gist Healthcare recently shared this graphic, which highlights how consolidated the hospital sector has become. Gist’s graphic displays how health systems account for more than 90 percent of all discharges in the US, with the largest 11 systems accounting for a quarter of discharges, and the largest 67 accounting for half.
How can healthcare strategic planners and marketers stay focused, yet flexible, during these times of consolidation and change? This post provides practical tips for how to deal with the inevitable challenges that will come during an integration. Key elements include: