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The current trend in the health care industry is increasingly shifting towards quality and safety. As such, change is inevitable and indispensable in this industry (Kastor 2010a). The issues of quality and safety link inextricably with change management. The essence of this process is to prevent and mitigate the harms from health system deficiencies. Also, ineffectual care delivery procedures expose patients to the risk of adverse clinical events (Harrison 2011). Kastor (2010b) has indicated that health care involves multiple patient handoffs and numerous interfaces within a complicated setting. Health organisations must adapt to internal and external transformations to optimise the care processes.
The health care industry is currently experiencing unprecedented challenges. The escalating medical costs, coupled with increased competition, have placed most hospitals in a precarious situation (Kastor 2010a). On the other hand, the remarkable advances in technology and scientific discoveries have revolutionised the health care sector. Most health facilities are now struggling to rationalise the consumption of resources while at the same time providing safe and quality care (Leemore 2009). Consequently, hospitals’ consolidation through mergers and acquisitions (M&A) has become a prevalent feature in the industry. Conversely, the integration process raises critical concerns regarding the management of the change process (Haas-Wilson & Garmon 2011).
The purpose of this report is to highlight the best practices that will facilitate the merger between Al Razi Hospital and Ibn Sina Hospital. The consolidation of the two health facilities is essential to deliver safe, and quality care, more efficiently. Conversely, this process will be challenging, considering the capabilities of each hospital. On the one hand, the Al Razi Hospital has automated the care delivery processes by sophisticated incorporated technologies into its practice. On the other hand, the Ibn Sina Hospital still employs outdated and manual systems to deliver health care. Thus, the merging of these organisations will present practical obstacles. In addition, the managers and employees of both hospitals are apprehensive about the merger.
The pertinent concerns raised above necessitate the effectual management of the merger to achieve positive outcomes. The M&A will affect all the employees and functions of both hospitals. It is essential to develop and implement feasible strategies that will facilitate the formations of the new entity (Al Karama) seamlessly. This report provides crucial insights that will enable the management and employees to adapt to change. The report will particularly emphasise the role of leadership during the transformation process. Secondly, the ensuing discussions will explore Kotter’s Change Management Model. This theoretical framework will provide the guidelines for implementing the change successfully.
Strategies for Optimising the Merger
One of the principal challenges encountered during mergers and acquisitions is the resistance to change. Poor communication, coupled with the uncertainty about the future exacerbates this issue (Creasy, Stull & Peck 2009). Harrison (2011) has argued that inadequate preparations during the formative stages increase the risk of failure. It is critical to prepare and lay a firm foundation for transformation and integration. According to Monge and Poole (2008), communication becomes imperative immediately after organisations decide to merge. The top management in both the hospitals should provide sufficient, accurate and detailed information about the impending change.
The majority of executives have the tendency of making unilateral decisions without consulting their subordinates. Budawar, Varma and Katou (2009) have found out that employees resist change when the line managers fail to involve them in the decision-making and planning processes. The hospital CEOs should address the concerns of their respective employees prior to formalising the merger. The managers should provide the reasons for the merger in an explicit manner (Leemore 2009). This information should include the rationale for the merger, as well as its benefits and implications. Denison, Adkins and Guidroz (2011) have asserted that employees become less distracted and sceptical when they have access to both accurate and sufficient information.
The merger between Al Razi Hospital and Ibn Sina Hospital is momentous, considering the diverse background of each organisation. Consequently, the flow of information within and between the hospitals will be essential during the premerger period. The two health facilities should establish a single chain of command to facilitate efficient communication between the hospitals (Harrison 2011; Leeemore 2009). A lead agency will facilitate the smooth flow of information and feedback in a single direction. This authority will also ensure the assimilation of the hospitals’ departments and cultures in a flawless manner (Isern & Pung 2007). Conversely, the success of this strategy will depend on the structures of organisation and governance (Kastor 2010a).
The merging of the two hospitals will lead to the formation of a new entity, Al Karama Hospital. This transition necessitates the change agents to develop clear organisational and governance structures of the new hospital. The first implication of mergers is the realignment of roles, functions and departments. Fischer and Rush (2008) have identified this task as the most difficult one during and after the merger. For instance, the rationalisation of the staff, departments and procedures will cause fear and discontentment among the employees. Creasy, Stull and Peck (2009) have warned against making significant changes to the staffing responsibilities and roles in the first six months of the post-merger.
The merger between the two hospitals will present challenges but provide a fundamental opportunity to optimise and modernise capabilities. The type and scope of the consolidation will depend on the objectives (Fischer & Rush 2008). In this case, the Ibn Sina Hospital will benefit significantly from the technological capabilities of the Al Razi Hospital. Vertical integration is the most common form of mergers that enhance the delivery of health care services (Kastor 2010b). The Mayo Clinic is one of the organisations that exemplify the model of vertical integration (Kastor 2010a). The hospitals should consider a number of issues regardless of the type of consolidation.
First, it is imperative for the hospitals to audit and take stock of their technological and expertise portfolio. The purpose of this process is to identify the opportunities for streamlining or eliminating redundant systems (Harrison 2011). The two hospitals have different processes and care delivery pathways. The change proponents should evaluate these aspects comprehensively to identify strengths and weaknesses. For example, the technological incompatibility of these two hospitals will influence staffing decisions. It is essential to emphasise the experience and skills set of every employee, including their place in the new organisation (Haas-Wilson & Garmon 2011). In-house training will play a fundamental role in bridging the technological gap between the hospitals (Denison, Adkins & Guidroz 2011).
Second, the lead agency should incorporate the human resource function into the strategic decisions. Harrison (2011) has found out that most organisations do not involve human resource managers in the decision-making processes during the process of mergers and acquisitions. The merger will automatically alter the employees’ position, job titles and reporting relationships. As such, it is imperative to work closely with the HR and line managers to address these concerns (Creasy, Stull & Peck 2009). The line managers will particularly play a critical role because they are more conversant with the needs and preferences of the employees (Haas-Wilson & Garmon 2011)
Thirdly, the transformation process should not undermine the new hospital’s financial performance and current operations. Budawar, Varma and Katou (2009) have found out that organisations often shift their focus from the daily operations to the consolidation process. The elemental concern is that such decisions slow down the momentum of change. In addition, the quality and safety of health care services suffer the greatest during the initial stages of the post-merger (Kastor 2010b). Thus, the lead agency should consider establishing efficient systems that will be useful to monitor the performance, consistency and quality of the new hospital. The management should also empower the staff to identify and report any gaps in the care delivery pathways.
The task of running systems and processes smoothly in a post-integration environment is both complicated and daunting. This phase requires skilled leadership and efficient communication (Fischer & Rush, 2008). The two aspects are essential to measure progress and make adjustments constantly. The scope of responsibility and leadership increases after the consolidation process. According to Harrison (2011), the post-merger process increases the number of employees and the complexity of processes. Thus, leadership capabilities and skillsets are crucial to managing the post-transformation phase. Denison, Adkins and Guidroz (201) have underscored the significance of outsourcing expertise to complete and sustain the change initiative quickly.
Change Management Leadership
The increasing demands for safety and quality have made change management (as opposed to stability) a norm in health care (Kastor 2010a). Seniors and Swailes (2010) have asserted that the adaptation to both external and internal transformations is a critical success factor. The efficient management of the change process is essential whether the transformation is structural or procedural (Fischer & Rush 2008). Health organisations fail to accrue the benefits of new technologies and innovations because they do not implement them successfully. The majority of managers are still making strategic decisions unanimously. Nonetheless, the autocratic style of leadership is inconsequential during the implementation of new strategies and procedures (Spector, 2007).
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The top management should adopt the transformational leadership style to ensure that the post-merger process succeeds. Transformational leaders are both influences their followers to achieve organisational goals (Pieterse, Caniëls & Homan 2012). The previous discussions have highlighted resistance as one of the barriers to effectual change management. Accordingly, the management team should share their visions and goals with the employees through consultations and active engagement (Monge & Poole 2008). Isern and Pung (2007) have underscored the significance of open and continuous sharing of information before and after the merger. These processes will enable the managers to get regular feedback and involve the clinicians in decision-making processes.
The merger between the two hospitals presents practical leadership challenges. The reconciliation of two different organisational structures is a critical concern for the new management. The principal issue is that the health facilities were previously competing and separate. Each hospital had adopted independent norms of delivering care. Denison, Adkins and Guidroz (2011) have affirmed that culture can be a significant source of conflict and disagreement.
The CEO and top managers of the newly created hospital must develop viable strategies that will facilitate seamless integration among the employees. The administration should be not only strong but also nimble and committed. The absence of both attributes will escalate the risk of failure (Ford & Ford, 2010).
The intricacies inherent in the health care system increase the threat of cultural conflict during hospital mergers and acquisitions. Burke (2008) has argued that the association between people after the merger determines whether the process was a success or not. The transformative leaders should respect the dignity of the employees even as they challenge them to shed-off deep-rooted traditions and practices (Isern & Pung 2007).
It is apparent that the employees from the Ibn Sina Hospital have adapted to the culture of using manual systems. Thus, the new CEO should provide training opportunities to ensure a smooth transition to the automated approaches. The management can achieve this goal by fostering employee exchanges between the two hospitals before finalising the merger (Pieterse, Caniëls & Homan 2012).
In addition, the CEO should espouse value-based and visionary leadership. According to Monge and Poole (2008), this leadership attribute mandates managers to articulate an appealing and clear vision. Spector (2007) has also asserted that an organisation cannot transform successfully in the absence of explicit goals. The top management should reinforce the intrinsic values of the hospital’s vision and mission. In addition, there is a need to build strong transactions teams to steer the vision forward (Ford & Ford 2010). Fischer and Rush (2008) have recommended the selection of a few people with requisite skills and competencies. The manager can then add others as the process evolves. Conversely, the success of these procedures requires the CEO to select the most appropriate change management model (Burke 2008).
The Application of the Kotter’s Change Management Model
The successful implementation of change requires pragmatic leaders who can anticipate and respond to both internal and external transformations adequately. Nonetheless, the change process is slow and challenging (Spector, 2007). A number of theoretical frameworks have evolved over the years to conceptualise the integration of change into management practices. Kotter is one of the prominent scholars that have provided crucial contributions to the understanding of organisational change. The Kotter’s Change Management Model has identified eight steps that the health care organisation can employ to manage change. Kotter has organised these phases into three distinct phases (Kotter 2008).
The first category involves the development of an environment for change. The initial step at this phase is to create the urgency for change (Kotter 2008). The hospital administrators should prepare all the employees to respond to the impending merger. The management can use case studies and clinical scenarios to justify the need for the consolidation. Secondly, the managers should subsequently form a team that will oversee the ensuing processes (Isern & Pung 2007). Kotter has emphasised the selection of people that posses the right skill sets. Thirdly, both the manager and the guiding team should formulate a good vision statement that maps the future direction of the new hospital. The vision should be concise and clear (Spector, 2007).
The second phase of Kotter’s model focuses on enabling and engaging the entire organisation. The first activity of this step entails communicating the consequences of the change (Kotter 2008). The news of the merger will certainly cause anxiety among the clinicians of both hospitals. The guiding team should develop a system that will facilitate the dissemination of timely and accurate information. Secondly, the change agents should engage the stakeholders in a continuous dialogue. The employees and line managers will not respond to the merge in the same manner (Leemore 2009). As such, it is essential to ensure that everyone is included in the process. The guiding team should encourage the change initiates to participate in decision-making processes (Pieterse, Caniëls & Homan 2012).
The final phase of the Kotter’s framework deals with implementing and sustaining the change. According to Kotter (2008), change is not a static but rather a continuous process. This assertion is indispensable because the health care system faces new challenges that necessitate immediate and constant transformations (Kastor 2010a). The newly formed hospital will continue to encounter a myriad of organisational and operational challenges during the post-merger period. The CEO and the guiding team should develop monitoring and evaluation systems to identify the gaps and opportunities for continuous improvement. It is imperative to note that this model is an iterative approach (Kotter, 2008).
The Kotter’s Change Management Model has brought to the fore six pertinent issues. First, the creation of a sense of urgency motivates people to appreciate the need for change. Second, the recruitment of powerful change agents is essential to counter resistance. Third, the change agents must develop an explicit vision and share it with subordinates through open communication channels. The mangers should identify and address concerns to minimise the risk of failure. Fifth, the change process can only be meaningful if the employees assimilate the transformations into the organisational culture. Most importantly, the guiding team should manage transitions efficiently.
The most difficult stage of the change process is transitioning from the status quo to the new system. Conversely, Bridges (2009) has formulated a Transitions Model that organisations can employ to navigate through the change process successfully. This framework contains three components: the past (certainty), the neutral zone (ambiguity) and the future (hope). The organisations that concentrate on the past do not grow because they cannot leave their comfort zones. By contrast, focusing on the future presents endless opportunities for transformation. Finally, the people and organisations that operate within the neutral zone are more likely to move back to the past (Burke 2008). Thus, the management and employees of the new hospital should focus on the future to optimise the change process.
The process of managing a merger is both a science and an art. The essence of this assertion is that intricate nature of change management. Although transformations are inevitable in the contemporary world, the complexity of the health care system complicates matters. The increasing shift towards quality and safety has provided the rationale for hospital mergers and acquisitions. Conversely, this strategic decision can be both beneficial and detrimental to the delivery of services. On the one hand, the integration of services plays a fundamental role in enhancing the efficiency of care pathways. On the other hand, poorly managed mergers and acquisitions undermine the delivery of optimal services.
The consolidation of hospitals will continue to receive more attention considering the financial distress in the public sector. In addition, the increasing demands for quality and safety necessitate the integration of health care services. As such, it is imperative to optimise mergers and acquisitions through the effectual management of change. The preceding discussions have proposed feasible strategies that the two hospitals can employ to facilitate the transition. This report has emphasised the significance of planning and communication during the change process. The change agents should ensure that all the employees and other stakeholders assume an integral part in the planning, implementation and evaluation phases.
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