You’ve done the hard work of researching, negotiating for, and buying the medical practice that will complement and grow your own. Now it’s just a matter of merging — space, staff, patients, software, equipment, and furniture. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, as you’re probably guessing, a lot. In many ways, the hard work is just beginning. But the rewards of getting the merger right will far outweigh the short-term pain of getting up to speed. Let’s take a look at the best ways to merge your practice with the one you just bought:
1. Use Caution when Combining Cultures
If you’ve done your homework, you’ve identified a practice with a compatible culture. It won’t be a perfect alignment, but it should rest on the same core values. Tread carefully as you introduce both practices to each other. If you take this time to co-create an updated brand that includes both the current practice and your added one, all parties will feel ownership and can have input in the new goals. Get input on the combined culture, operating hours, and technology systems, as well as how payment and bonuses will work. Also take the time for some bonding experiences by introducing everyone to one another early on, and then providing team-building activities and common goals for them to accomplish together.
2. Take Hold of the Helm
Without a clear leader, a medical merger will dissolve into two very separate entities or two mistrustful practices. From Day 1, there should be competent leadership that manages the transition with a team. It’s important to have this person gain the trust of all involved to avoid a large power vacuum that creates two disparate, dispirited groups. You are now one big family - and you need to operate like one.
3. Keep Communications Coming
Throughout the different phases of the merger, it’s important to keep the lines open with your staff. While you need to wait until details are finalized before including all staff in the conversation, once it’s a “done deal,” they will appreciate the transparency. This is key, as rumors spread fast and can quickly undermine morale and productivity.
There are other ways to increase and facilitate communication among your new, combined teams. Create a central repository for all documentation and marketing. You can circulate anonymous online polls to get a read on people’s feelings and their ideas for solutions. A shared team calendar also keeps everyone on the same page and alerts staff to others’ availability.
4. Train Well and Teach New Technology
We all know how important training is, and we can’t overlook it here — even for an established practice. Your technology or processes are likely to change during a merger or acquisition, and a formal training will not only provide important instruction, but is a clear signal that you are embracing the new, consolidated practice together.
5. Plan for Post-Merger Performance
The period right after merging is one of the most stressful times for two companies, so nimble navigation is important. Find the commonalities and keep everyone focused on running the core business processes smoothly. A one-day-at-a-time approach with open communication (even over-communication) works well here.
6. Leverage Synergies
As soon as possible, make any changes you identified earlier to capitalize on synergies, such as overlaps in marketing, software, and roles.
7. Be Careful with Cost-Cutting
This is a more direct and immediate (though highly sensitive) way to increase profitability. Many cost-cutting strategies involve reducing redundancies to optimize operations, and this can sometimes mean cutting staff. Luckily, there are other ways to cut costs - economies of scale will help reduce overhead spending, and shifting responsibilities around may create a more effective and efficient business for everyone.
You’re off and running. While growing pains will happen with healthcare mergers, businesses can reap the benefits of a merger relatively quickly if it’s a good match. Enjoy the process and keep track of what worked - and what didn’t - so you’re ready the next time a worthwhile opportunity comes along. Download our whitepaper, “4 Trends Medical Specialists Need To Know Now” to learn more about changes impacting the medical space.