The Importance of Addressing Culture When Merging Different Entities
by Sheryl S. Jackson
Keep Focus on Patient-Centric Care and Take Time to Engage Everyone in the Process
Increasing financial and competitive pressures within the health care industry have spurred hospital acquisition of other health care providers – physician practices, urgent care centers, and imaging centers. While the reasons for acquiring other entities varies from extending a hospital’s market reach to eliminating competition, the one element often overlooked when integrating new entities into the health system is a recognition of corporate cultural differences.
When Baystate Health, a three-hospital system in Massachusetts, acquired two physician-owned independent breast imaging centers and combined the staffs and patients with the system’s existing breast imaging services, the challenge was to merge the different cultures to turn former competitors into collaborators.
The acquisition of the two independent centers coincided with the move of the hospital’s breast imaging center to a new location, so it was the perfect opportunity to blend the best of all three sites – staff, services, and culture – to create the new, single-site Baystate Breast and Wellness Center, says Suzanne Hendery, vice president of marketing and communications for Baystate Health, and co-leader of the cultural transformation project. The goal was to maintain at least the same volume as the three centers combined in the previous year. A total of 50,000 procedures, including screening mammograms, diagnostic mammograms, and breast biopsies, were performed prior to the merger.