In the aftermath of COVID-19 it shouldn’t be surprising that mergers and acquisitions are again on the rise. Providers of all sizes are eager to offset the financial fallout from two years of pandemic cost burden, limited staff, and now margins pressed by inflation. A well-planned strategic M&A can assist in decreasing costs and improving productivity by simply increasing volumes. This is the common motivation for organizations to endure what is often a complicated move, both functionally and culturally. In all of the stress and confusion that comes with executing change management at this level, leadership can often lose sight of one critical task: communicating with patients.
Patients don’t understand the idiosyncrasies of healthcare margins, the difficulties faced by the industry, or the necessity for some organizations to turn to M&A or risk closure. They aren’t reading Becker’s, they’re reading the local news and stories like this one that detail how M&A is bad for patients: diminishing the care quality, limiting provider choice, and driving up the cost of care.
“Consumer advocates and public health analysts say residents and insurance payers have a reason to be concerned about the deal. They say research is clear: A merger in which patients benefit the most is the exception, not the rule.”
In fact, patients are inundated by messaging about healthcare mergers and acquisitions that sow discontent, fear, and distrust. Sources that commonly back up these claims include a study by the St. Louis Metropolitan Medical Society that clearly illustrates M&A increase the cost of care for patients and this study that associates hospital M&A with a decline in quality and a “worse” patient experience. What they don’t hear is that M&A can result in broader service offerings, improved care coordination, and the ability to negotiate better prices with private insurance.
This is why it’s critical that you control the narrative.
In today’s competitive market patient loyalty is precarious at best. Any negative sentiment could be enough to encourage patients to seek care elsewhere— the result of which could minimize any positive impact of the M&A. Organizations must get ahead of the press (and its competitors) to control the narrative early and put patients’ minds at ease. This means developing a communication strategy that acknowledges patients concerns and demonstrates that their personal connection with your organization will remain intact.
M&A Communication Strategies should include…
Personalized outreach to individual patients
Details about any changes that may impact the patient
The goal of the M&A and how it can benefit patients
An opportunity to learn more (online resources)
Personalized outreach shows patients that they matter on as an individual and emphasizes that they are a part of your care community. The few minutes a representative spends talking to each patient as a part of an informational outreach campaign can have a tremendous impact on the patient experience. To put it simply...
Inspiring patient loyalty requires more than a press release.
Envera Health can assist you in conducting proactive outreach campaigns with an emphasis on human touch that ensures patient communications reflect the values of your organization. Contact us to learn more about our short-term solution packages that provide fast and simple communication strategies while preserving your internal resources.