November 7, 2013

It’s a brave new world for healthcare.

Have a clear plan in place for the changes your staff will go through over the next few years.

Have a clear plan in place for the changes your staff will go through over the next few years.

Welcome to the wildest of times in the history of American healthcare. Consumers, physicians and advanced practitioners, administrators, insurers, and government bureaucrats are caught up in a systematic change that’s as manageable as a tornado in a mailbox. Since 2010, we’ve all been loosely aware of the guidelines of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare,” if you prefer). But today — only a couple months from full adoption — uncertainty and fear loom large. All parties are scrambling to make sense of this monumental change, let alone predict how it will affect their daily operations.

Here’s a clue: Unprepared health systems and hospitals throughout the country are facing mass layoffs or, worse, closing. Some even project that one-third of hospitals in America will close or completely reorganize by 2020. Healthcare is rapidly becoming the newest commodity in an open competitive market, and healthcare employers with brand names will prevail.

Physicians stand to be the most affected as they usher in a universal change in healthcare delivery. Gone will be the small independent physician organizations that reward volume and encourage physician autonomy. In their place will be large regional medical groups aligned with health systems or mega-conglomerates that manage their own health plans. These giants will limit passive income from self-referrals. Investments in physician-owned ancillary services and global budgets from an Independent Medicare Payment Board will affect income growth. The core rewards of being a physician are at stake with these changes, and the marketplace will become smaller and more homogenized — with the exception of employers who have established brands.

For our clients in recruitment, a strong employment brand will be key to dominating the market. Now is the time to begin focusing on your brand DNA, which happens to be your current medical providers. They are your advocates, your reputation, your promise and your soul. They are also subject to the massive changes occurring throughout the healthcare delivery system. Start to expand internal communications with them in mind.

Effective change management demands clear communications. Have a clear plan in place for the changes your staff will go through over the next few years. Provide timely communication to help your staff understand their role in these changes, how they will be affected, how they can help and what they should expect. Without a plan, you can expect higher turnover, reduced employee engagement, performance and productivity, and gradual erosion of your brand reputation.

If you prepare your organization for change and communicate your plans effectively, you will not only retain valuable personnel, but you will see those people become the soul of your employment brand. They will help you become more attractive to physicians seeking organizations that have a clear plan for their success and that can navigate through even the most daunting of changes in healthcare.

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