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GE Healthcare Camden Group Insights Blog

New Download: "Stay Focused While Developing Your System Integration Plans"

Posted by Matthew Smith on Oct 29, 2016 9:20:58 AM

System integration plans fall short and occasionally fail to achieve their desired outcomes most frequently because they lack effective solutions, fail to consider the impact of system operations on the community, and don’t have the necessary support from the workforce.

As much as a well-orchestrated integration planning process and an invested leadership team can work to position a system for integration success, a system integration strategy must be grounded in value creation, risk management, and employee engagement to ensure any integration plan to reach its goals.

This new download from GE Healthcare Camden Group details the importance of focus when developing an effective integration plan and includes information such as:

  • The value creation equation
  • The 3 pillars to effective health system integration planning
  • A sample listing of functional areas for integration consideration

To download this PDF file, simply click the click the button below.

Health System Integration

Topics: Health System Efficiencies, Health System Integration

Stay Focused While Developing Your System Integration Plans

Posted by Matthew Smith on Oct 20, 2016 4:00:21 PM

By Brandon Klar, MHSA, Senior Manager, GE Healthcare Camden Group

As the healthcare industry continues to experience consolidation and health systems evolve to meet industry challenges, operational integration initiatives present great opportunities to enhance system-wide performance.

Many health systems speak to the integration goals as they design their strategic partnerships, but only a portion develop realistic, achievable, and sustainable integration plans and even fewer accomplish the goals set forth in those plans.

System integration plans fall short and occasionally fail to achieve their desired outcomes most frequently because they lack effective solutions, fail to consider the impact of system operations on the community, and don’t have the necessary support from the workforce. As much as a well-orchestrated integration planning process and an invested leadership team can work to position a system for integration success, a system integration strategy must be grounded in value creation, risk management, and employee engagement to ensure any integration plan to reach its goals.

Value Creation

To achieve success in a value-based world, health systems must actively seek to enhance the value of their clinical services. Defining value as healthcare outcomes per cost, a health system’s pursuit of value creation will involve enhancing the quality of its services while reducing the per unit delivery cost.

Value creation through health system optimization can be achieved through both horizontal and vertical integration strategies. Horizontal integration strategies are focused on reducing unnecessary duplicative resources, enhancing system operational performance, and aligning/optimizing clinical programs and resources. While duplication of select resources and clinical services may be warranted to maintain access in select geographic areas, plans must carefully balance community needs with efficient resource distribution to deliver high-quality cost-effective clinical programs.

Conversely, vertical integration strategies are focused on enhancing the value throughout the continuum of care by effectively positioning access points, redesigning the care model, and promoting information technology and data sharing. As systems form and evolve, seamless handoffs between system providers and multidisciplinary care plans will reduce unnecessary resource utilization and provide for the efficient navigation of patients through the system with high quality and high satisfaction outcomes.

Risk Management

Risk is inherent within every system integration initiative. The term “system integration” can often trigger employment uncertainties and high employee and physician anxiety which heightens the internal challenge to achieve a successful integration. Community resistance or concerns for the planned integration efforts are also possible based upon the drivers that prompted the system to take action. While identified risks may become realities and unanticipated challenges can arise with little warning, effective risk management planning is essential.

Identification and analysis of the integration risks by the system integration leaders and their teams are foundational to the planning process. Balancing the benefits of integration initiatives against the probability of the risk may prompt either the development of preventative and contingency plans, or the abandonment of the integration initiative all together. Regardless, every risk should be thoughtfully analyzed in the context of the benefits of the system integration plan and weighed carefully.

Employee and Physician Engagement

The third pillar to effective health system integration is employee and physician engagement. While system integration planning is overseen and led by senior system leaders, it is imperative that employees and physicians have a voice within the planning process to foster effective integration results.

Solicitation of ideas, involvement in plan development, transparency in the planning process, and frequent communication will provide systems with the best chance for developing an effective integration solution, and fostering acceptance, accountability, and alignment among the stakeholders. This planning approach will also provide the system with the platform to accelerate the change process, and achieve and sustain its integration goals and objectives. While some confidentiality is warranted in the integration planning and implementation process, employee and physician engagement is necessary for success.

As health systems take on their integration planning and implementation process, a focus on the three pillars will provide the foundation to strategically position themselves to be nimble and efficient in a value-driven world.

This is Part 2 in our System Integration blog Series. Part 1 may be found here. Part 3 will examine the 5 steps in a successful system integration planning process.

For more details surrounding health system integration planning, please download our PDF via the button, below:

Health System Integration 


B_Klar.jpgMr. Klar is a senior manager with GE Healthcare Camden Group with over 12 years of experience in healthcare management. Mr. Klar specializes in strategic and business planning advisory services, including service line planning, master facility planning, and transaction work (e.g., mergers, acquisitions, affiliations, joint ventures). He has extensive experience in the creation of strategic partnerships, the facilitation of inaugural health system strategic plan development, as well as the creation and implementation of business plans of operational efficiency, system-wide integration plans, and clinical programmatic alignment plans. He may be reached at brandon.klar@ge.com.

Topics: Business Plan of Operational Efficiency, BPOE, Mergers & Acquisitions, Health System Efficiencies, Brandon Klar, Health System Integration

Health System Integration: You Need a Plan!

Posted by Matthew Smith on Oct 3, 2016 1:25:10 PM

By Brandon Klar, MHSA, Senior Manager, GE Healthcare Camden Group

Success within population health is grounded in a health system’s collective ability to improve the health and wellness of those in its communities, and other patient groups it may serve. With a goal of achieving the Triple Aim, systems are restructuring their operations to strengthen the value proposition of their clinical services. With a desire to enhance access, improve quality, and control costs, many systems are looking towards formal strategic partnerships as a means to attain the necessary scope and scale to be successful.

As systems expand, they have the opportunity to achieve system-oriented efficiencies. Through both horizontal and vertical integration strategies, systems desire to position themselves within the market as high-quality and cost-effective providers to attract patients and payers. While many systems pursue these objectives, some fail to achieve full integration due to a lack of effective planning, poor management collaboration, or subpar implementation. Regardless of the reason, a sound integration plan focused on the goals of the system and dedicated true integration will increase the odds of success.  

System Integration plans can be developed both pre-transaction and post-transaction, as well as by systems that have been operating for some time, but in more of a “loose federation” model than as a truly integrated system. Below, you will find an overview of system integration plans, the critical factors in developing them, and associated benefits and limitations.

Pre-Transaction Integration Plans

The development of pre-transaction integration plans provides the aligning entities a road map to achieve their partnership goals and objectives once the transaction is final. Developed prior to the signing of a definitive agreement, these plans serve to lay the foundation for administrative, support, clinical, and service line integration across the continuum as it relates to the location of services, management and staffing, and the optimization of non-salary resources and contracts.

Pre-transaction integration plans allow the entities to build upon their shared strategic vision and construct a newly integrated operating model by which the two entities can optimize their individual strengths and maximize their collective resources. Recognizing that each entity brings with it their unique resources and capabilities, pre-transaction planning is focused on:

  • Cataloging the collective resources and capabilities of the newly proposed system
  • Understanding the existing operating models and functional area interdependencies
  • Framing a new operating model for the integrated system functions
  • Selecting horizontal and vertical integration strategies to align operations
  • Developing action plans with clearly defined goals, resource requirements, barriers, accountable parties, and quality and cost impact analyses
  • Designing an implementation governance structure to oversee the capture of short-term wins post-transaction while coordinating for long-term integration

In addition to preparing the system for operational integration, pre-transaction integration plans can also serve a role in supporting regulatory approval of the proposed transactions by Departments of Health, Attorneys General, and the Federal Trade Commission. While the burdens of proof and detail required may vary by state and regulatory agency, these plans illustrate that the transacting parties are committed to the transaction, have a roadmap to integrate operations at a systems level, and possess a plan to reduce overall system costs. These plans have been proven helpful in demonstrating the value that can be derived by a transaction for a community, but are limited in their detail as the parties are unable to exchange competitively sensitive information prior to the transaction.

In the preparation of these pre-transaction integration plans, parties have utilized both anti-trust counsel and a system integration consulting firm to prevent undue disclosure of sensitive information and support in the development of a more meaningful integration plan.

Post-Transaction Integration Plans

Post-transaction integration plans seek to enhance the integration of entities with a system both horizontally and vertically outside of the confines and limitations of the transaction process. These plans are developed to support system operational integration at two points in a system’s journey: (1) Immediately following a transaction, and/or (2) Years post transaction to optimize a system’s operational performance.

As systems pursue integration post-transaction, they should build upon their pre-transaction plans or previously completed integration initiatives. As the parties are now able to share competitively sensitive information, the integration plans can be further refined, enhanced, and validated. To efficiently drive system integration planning and implementation, the newly formed system should:

  • Activate a system integration governance structure to oversee operational integration
  • Establish an Integration Management Office (“IMO”) in line with an integration governance structure to manage processes, team collaboration, and track progress
  • Convene functional area integration teams to drive integration plan refinement and implementation
  • Engage employee and physician stakeholders to keep them informed and solicit ideas
  • Construct a community communication plan to highlight benefits and any changes to care design and delivery

Integration plan refinement and implementation immediately following a transaction can both position the system for success, or doom it for failure. While integration planning and implementation will drive efficiency, attention must be paid to cultural alignment. Individual functional plans and strategies should have their benefits objectively weighed against the cultural or political turbulence that could result. This process requires collaboration between the integrated management teams, and will require input from both internal and external system stakeholders if the plans are to successfully drive acceptance, accountability, and alignment within the system.

Many systems fall short of achieving full integration immediately following a transaction, and thus have opportunity to further optimize system performance years later. These systems may have either decided not to pursue specific integration opportunities in fear of cultural turbulence, stakeholder resistance, or a lack of guidance, will-power or resources to do so. Regardless of the reason, systems should reassess their degree of integration at least annually to identify new opportunities that may have arisen or determine if previous barriers to implementation or resistance to change have been mitigated. It is not uncommon for systems to achieve between 5 to 10% in sustainable, operational annual cost savings years after a transaction as a direct result of future integration plans.

As consolidation trends and cost pressures accelerate, the keys to a successful integration initiative are to focus on value creation, risk management, and employee and physician engagement in order to develop a realistic, achievable, and sustainable plan that positons the system for success.  

For more details surrounding health system integration planning, please download our PDF via the button, below:

 Health System Integration


B_Klar.jpgMr. Klar is a senior manager with GE Healthcare Camden Group with over 12 years of experience in healthcare management. Mr. Klar specializes in strategic and business planning advisory services, including service line planning, master facility planning, and transaction work (e.g., mergers, acquisitions, affiliations, joint ventures). He has extensive experience in the creation of strategic partnerships, the facilitation of inaugural health system strategic plan development, as well as the creation and implementation of business plans of operational efficiency, system-wide integration plans, and clinical programmatic alignment plans. He may be reached at brandon.klar@ge.com.

Topics: Business Plan of Operational Efficiency, BPOE, Mergers & Acquisitions, Health System Efficiencies, Brandon Klar, Health System Integration

Charting a Path to Health System Efficiencies Following a Merger

Posted by Matthew Smith on Jun 11, 2015 9:43:24 AM

A business plan of operational efficiencies can help a health system achieve large-scale gains in cost performance and organizational alignment following a merger or an acquisition.

By Brandon Klar, MHSA, Senior Manager, The Camden Group (via the June, 2015 issue of HFM Magazine)

Brand-Strategy-Mergers-Acquisitions.jpgHealthcare reform is driving an increase in health system mergers and acquisitions. Almost without exception, these moves are billed as an opportunity to reduce costs and leverage scale to improve care delivery. Unfortunately, many merged organizations fail to fully realize the operational health system efficiencies envisioned before the transaction. Once select management positions are integrated and group-purchasing contracts have been consolidated, integration efforts often slow considerably or grind to a halt entirely. This pattern is seen both with true mergers, where two organizations are combined to create a new entity, and with transactions in which an organization acquires and absorbs another organization.

This failure to achieve the full potential of a merger or an acquisition carries two risks. First, incomplete integration can actually increase system costs, particularly when the combined organization creates a new layer of corporate oversight on top of the two merged entities. Second, poor integration can create trouble with regulators. The Federal Trade Commission, state attorneys general, and other agencies often approve health system mergers based in part on promised operational efficiencies. When these efficiencies fail to materialize, regulatory bodies can take action.

Please click the button below to continue reading this article on the Healthcare Financial Management Association's ("HFMA") website:

BPOE, Business Plan of Operational Efficiencies, The Camden Group

Topics: HFMA, Mergers, BPOE, Mergers & Acquisitions, Health System Efficiencies, Hospital mergers and acquisitions, Brandon Klar

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