The technical and legal aspects of a medical practice merger, while not always easy to resolve, can often be worked out. My experiences have shown me that failed mergers resulted from an inattention to the “process” aspects of the merger – it must be done right and hard decisions need to be made. Paying attention to process ensures that expectations and input are appropriately managed and that sufficient time is taken to address the key issues associated with the merger.
If you are contemplating a merger with someone else, keep in mind that one of the major concerns in medical practice mergers is the management of physician expectations. The merger process is often hampered by a lack of knowledge on the part of physicians of the time and effort involved in such an enterprise. A serious concern in this regard is that physicians in the merging groups often do not take the time beforehand to get to know each other’s practice styles, values, personalities, philosophies, and guiding principles. This is particularly true when physicians are reacting to fear or market pressure rather than out of recognition of a shared opportunity.
There is often a delicate balance between taking enough time to work through some of the early issues in a merger and taking too long in attempting to address every conceivable concern that arises. Some physicians want to “cross every t and dot every i” before making a commitment to moving forward with a merger. This is unrealistic, since most mergers are works in progress that may take years to accomplish fully.
A medical practice merger is akin to a marriage. It takes time, commitment, and capital to work. A successful merger is the result of a convergence of factors: demonstrated physician leadership; management of process and expectations; consideration of customer-related issues; and recognition of a common vision and goals. Mergers can also provide opportunities for improving patient care by expanding services and expertise and by the development of “best practices.” When done for the right reasons, practice mergers can provide physicians with opportunities to gain efficiencies and market strength, positioning them to meet the competitive challenges that will continue to affect their futures in the years ahead.
So I end this article with a simple question for you: “What is your strategic vision for your medical practice?” Think about it.