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Habersham Medical Center and Northeast Georgia Health System Make Progress in Joint Strategic Planning Effort

Published on April 09, 2013

The joint strategic planning effort between Habersham Medical Center (HMC) and Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) continues to move forward, as both organizations explore opportunities for better meeting patient healthcare needs in the northeast Georgia region.
Representatives from NGHS are visiting HMC this week and next in a joint effort to learn more details about one another’s organizations and understand potential areas of benefit for a joint partnership.

The consulting firm Kaufman Hall is serving as advisors in the strategic planning and information gathering effort for the two organizations.  Kaufman Hall provides corporate finance and strategy services and related software analytical tools exclusively to healthcare providers to support successful strategies and financial performance.  Kaufman Hall has advised NGHS in the past on key projects and has conducted an assessment of the health system’s readiness for the impending changes relative to healthcare reform.

To date, Kaufman Hall has met with representatives from HMC leadership and Authority, Habersham Commissioners and NGHS leadership, board, and Authority members to provide education on the changing national healthcare landscape and the predicted implications of national healthcare reform on local patient care delivery models and reimbursement.  Kaufman Hall recently provided the same education to the HMC management team and physicians.
“Mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships in healthcare have accelerated, as industry participants reposition themselves in this changing healthcare landscape,” says Patrick Allen, senior vice president with Kaufman Hall.  “Healthcare providers are showing increased flexibility around partnering arrangements, and all types of innovative transactions are occurring.  How the business of healthcare is conducted is being redefined in fundamental and dramatic ways.”
Early in their discussions, leadership from NGHS and HMC established mutual goals and objectives and set forth a timeline for the joint strategic planning effort that they are currently executing.

“We agree that the ultimate outcome should be good for the people of Habersham and Hall counties and the region,” says David Kerby, chairman of the Hospital Authority of Habersham County.  “Any solution must enhance the ability to sustain appropriate meaningful and accessible healthcare services for Habersham County residents.  Both organizations are open to considering a range of options or models, and we agree that any short term solutions must be made in the context of a long term plan.”

“Our mutual decision-making must strongly consider and support the essential tenets of benchmarked quality, safety, and outcomes,” adds Carol Burrell, president and CEO of NGHS.

The timeline for the planning effort is broad, officials say, but provides a framework for what both organizations can expect going forward.  They are currently in a data gathering phase, including interviews with key stakeholders and HMC staff as well as a healthcare reform readiness assessment of HMC.  NGHS is updating its reform readiness assessment, and the organizations will use these analyses to ensure that any partnership positions both organizations well for the future.  In the late spring and early summer, the organizations will explore possible partnership models, conduct financial modeling and finalize the terms of a potential partnership.  The last phase, later this fall, will consist of a due diligence period and finalization of a potential partnership agreement.

NGMC Authority Chair Benny Bagwellsays ongoing communication and stakeholder involvement is another common principle the organizations believe essential to the endeavor.  “Throughout the process, we will respectfully engage our mutual community leadership in our planning and keep our Authority board leadership, trustees, and elected officials informed and involved.”

Jerry Wise, recently named interim CEO of HMC, says he is supportive of the process.  “I have met with representatives of NGHS and Kaufman Hall and am looking forward to being a part of this strategic planning effort.  These two hospitals have worked together to serve mutual patients for decades, so an assessment of this type makes perfect sense in this time of national change.”

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