by Tammy Graves, Adam Hartstein

The Challenge

A regional academic healthcare system was acquiring a Catholic community hospital to expand its presence and increase access to high-quality, affordable care. Because this was the first acquisition in a long-term growth strategy, the organization did not yet have the experience to ensure success. What they did have was deep respect for the crucial role that culture would play in bringing together two healthcare organizations with different roots—one secular, one faith-based. Leadership engaged Point B to establish an Integration Management Office (IMO), provide a process for pre-close discovery and post-close integration planning, and incorporate change management throughout the integration experience. We approached this work to not only deliver high value for this transaction but also a playbook as a blueprint for future acquisitions.

An IMO that works for people

Point B established an IMO that provides the governance, guidance, structure, resourcing and cadence to execute a successful transaction. We designed it with the flexibility to stand up whenever the healthcare organization is an acquisition mode, and to support employees who take on this important work while also doing their day jobs.

We engaged 21 functional teams to conduct discovery, define the integration scope and plans, and work with leaders at the community hospital to ensure a smooth transition. Early on, we brought together more than 50 stakeholders across both organizations who worked remotely, during the height of COVID-19, to ensure everyone had a seat at the “virtual table.” Some of their early discussions about integration management have been credited with shared successes later on.

Bringing two cultures together

Knowing change management would be key to a successful integration, we wanted to understand how both organizations viewed the acquisition. Where were they starting far apart? What similarities did they share?  What distinct values did they want to keep? What common goals could we build on?

We developed a change strategy that included a cultural assessment, change impact and mitigation analysis, and sponsorship action plans. We defined an interim operating model for a successful Day One, with subsequent evolutions as integration progressed. Throughout, we engaged leaders from both organizations in finding ways to manage change that honored their respective cultures.

A positive, additive approach to change

Acquiring a Catholic hospital has both formal and informal ramifications that were recognized and respected throughout—from keeping faith-based values intact to meeting religious directives for Catholic healthcare.

At the same time, we cultivated common ground by providing a structure to identify and evaluate a number of synergies: aligning vendors and contracts; reducing costs through efficiencies; investing less in contractors, more in hired staff; and establishing a plan for continued growth.  We focused on making integration a positive, additive process in which valuable healthcare resources and efficiencies are gained and important cultural values are not lost.

Inclusion from Day One

First impressions matter to M&A success. We listened, learned and carefully planned how the regional healthcare system would introduce itself to the Catholic hospital’s employees and community. New communication channels and processes encouraged employee engagement, established trust and demonstrated that leadership was including everyone “from Day One.” Again, we took an additive approach to planning Day One communications and activities that celebrated the coming together of two healthcare organizations dedicated to serving a broader community.

A clean close, a clear roadmap to integration

The regional healthcare system completed pre-close discovery and closed the deal with no significant issues, delays or unexpected investment. Those successes gave them a clean start to drive the integration process to completion, based on a roadmap with defined milestones, interdependencies and mitigated risks. Most important, it’s a roadmap that people from both organizations helped create. They’re on this journey together.

Every step of the way, we equipped people across the organization to take the lead, while we worked alongside them to advise, structure, organize and guide. To strengthen their internal resources going forward, we conducted sessions on lessons learned and provided a customized playbook for future transactions.

This healthcare system has a vision to put people at the center of change to serve a broader community. Now they have their first success—with the tools and know-how to do it again.