Adapting to Medical Imaging Merger Cultural Changes


Medical Imaging MergersThe “only constant is change” is an old and often used adage in the healthcare industry today. One of the biggest changes underway in the industry is accommodation of the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act, coupled with an aging population, is set to transform health care delivery as we know it.

With these changes comes the need to reduce both health costs and utilization, which has led to a significant increase in mergers and acquisitions among radiology groups over the past two years. As with any industry, merging with another company is complex. If two cultures don’t fit, like the merger of Time-Warner and AOL, that mismatch can be costly and damaging long after the ink on the deal has dried.

In an article published in Diagnostic Imaging, Timothy V. Myers, MD and Peter R. Bartling, MBA, emphasized the need to anticipate the consequences of such partnerships before the parties sign the final deal. Specifically, what will be the culture of the newly integrated organization?

Shared Culture Creates a Vision of Change

One definition of culture is “the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic.” (Merriam-Webster) According to Myers and Bartling, culture determines everything, from management style to unspoken rules. Culture will govern the way the group interacts internally as well as within the larger environment of clinicians and hospital administrators.

For a radiology group, culture could mean how two people (or even outside radiology groups) view technological change. One could embrace the latest in medical imaging IT solutions, for example, and an “old school” group might consider advancements in medical imaging a threat.

The authors state that four areas must be evaluated before potential partners should “tie the knot”:

  • The unique mission of each group;
  • Adaptability or level of aversion to risk/entrepreneurial activity;
  • Involvement of physicians and team members in the organization as well as within the environment in which they practice;
  • Consistency within the organization, which includes the ability to follow through on a course of action.

How the combined leadership deals with these differences after a merger will determine the success or failure of the new enterprise.

Have you been involved in a merger? How did it affect your organization’s culture?

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