The decision to align with another health care organization is among the most important, if not the most important, undertakings for a hospital board. Selecting the right partner, strategy, timing and structure all play important roles in determining the ultimate success of an organization and a partnership.
In forming a partnership, choices are made (even in initial conversations) that help determine how an organization will meet the health care needs of its communities for years to come. These choices may also influence whether the organization will be successful in meeting its objectives. Complexities inherent in these choices can make the process overwhelming, akin to approaching a five-way intersection without a map. Following are a few rules of the road that can provide safe passage and aid leadership in finding the route that leads to the desired destination.
Identify your destination. Organizations often make their first mistake while they are still in the driveway. They do this by identifying a given structure – independence, loose affiliation, full integration into a health system of a specific size, or others – as their destination.
Instead of single-mindedly driving toward a specific partner or structure, successful organizations develop precise objectives to direct them to the best fit and approach. These objectives set forth the organization’s vision for its role, guiding key decisions and leading it toward its ultimate destination.