In today’s economy, health care has reached a point where bigger is better. The advent of new technologies and the development of new treatments, along with growing specialties for medical staff, have made it beneficial to expand hospital size in order to fully utilize these expensive investments.
Sometimes bigger hospitals form strictly from the growth of smaller hospitals, but they are also formed by the merger of smaller hospitals. Large, regional companies band several facilities together to streamline operations and make their care options available to a bigger geographic area.
It can be a very good situation, but there are growing pains. Putting together two or more hospitals that had never interacted will require a lot of changes for all involved. Working through all these issues will take a comprehensive plan that is in place before things start.
While there are other issues not mentioned here, these are some of the more common ones.
Building a bigger hospital out of smaller ones will require the removal of some duplicated services. Maintaining two separate labs is wasteful and inefficient, so the merger plan needs to involve provisions for getting that down to one well-equipped, well-staffed lab.
While it’s reasonably easy to get the equipment moved, the specimens kept on hand need special care. PBMMI specializes in getting biological materials safely transported from one place to another, and if construction delays or other time issues call for it, they can even store those samples. The move can be efficient and simple if proper plans are made, so lab staffneedsd to work with the contractor right away to review quantities, procedures, and storage requirements.
When two hospitals join, they typically plan to share their patient bases. That’s often the entire purpose of merging to begin with, so it must be a seamless transition for patients. They will not return to the new hospital if it’s slow, inaccurate, or complicated to get things done there. They’ll also be concerned about their privacy if any component of their records is compromised or lost.
The merger of hospitals means the merger of records, so the IT departments in both facilities will have a tall order as they begin to assimilate. Not only must they get all the necessary data on patients, personnel, and operations into a common system, they must also maintain a higher level of security than most applications require. A new hospital will encounter gridlock if it cannot call up records from the original hospitals, so data transitions must be smooth.
Of course, no hospital is successful without skilled people and an effective system to help them do their jobs. The change from their old hospitals to the new combined one will be challenging for them, and management must provide help to them in navigating this change.
It will require work on many levels. Everything from terminology to the color of their scrubs may have to adapt, and they’ll even need help physically finding their way around. The better you are able to help them handle those needs, the more of their attention and energy will go to the care of patients.
Their input is critical. Take time to listen to them not just after the merger but before, to help address their concerns and incorporate their ideas of what the new hospital should do.
Merging two or more hospitals will never be easy, but it can be manageable. It requires the input of employees, careful planning by management, and a unified belief that there will be a better facility in place for the community when things are completed.