Collaboration as a Tool in Negotiation

June 18, 2009

Earlier this week, I read a thought provoking post on Ken Cohn’s Healthcare Collaboration Blog.  Ken, a practicing surgeon, is passionate about helping physicians, nurses, hospital leaders, and board members work together.

In my practice, I see a tremendous amount of tension, especially when it comes to the relationship between administration and hospital based groups.  On one level, this tension results from the business relationship between them – the exclusive contracting process and especially the issues relating to stipend support.

Unlike Ken, rather than wish this tension did not exist, I find it rather healthy in that it creates a robust atmosphere for the negotiating process.

On another level, that of the operational relationship (perhaps better thought of as the “professional” relationship) between the hospital and the hospital-based group (and here’s where Ken and I are more or less on the same page, I believe) I work hard with my clients to create not simply smooth, but “delighting” relationships.

However (and here’s where Ken and I part ways again) those “collaborative” relationships are themselves a part of the negotiation process (for the renewal of the contract relationship) and can be used both passively and actively (e.g., “delight” as a weapon) to achieve the group’s and the hospital’s goals.

Hospital administrators often manipulate the operational relationship in a quite aggressive way, setting up failure, triggering breaches, etc.   My clients understand this and have tools to combat it.  After all, this sort of behavior on the part of administrators simply indicates that they, too, share my long term view of what negotiation really is.

The relationship between a hospital-based group and each of the facilities at which it practices requires this long term view (see The Strategic Group Process™).  Each of the touch points between your group and a facility, as well as between your group and other members of the medical staff and between your group and your patients and their families, is, in actuality, a part of the negotiation with the facility.

Harness your power to influence those relationships and transform your practice.

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