Broad Scope of Negotiation

The Problem of Perception – Healthcare Collaboration


What an odd color Mercedes; pink, like cotton candy.

But what color is that pink?  The pink in your mind’s eye is different from that in mine, and from that of each other reader.

That’s because colors are perceptions made by each of us.


The three students filed into the room and took seats facing the large screen.  A block of  color was projected onto it.

“What color is the block?” asked a voice from the back of the room.

“Blue – Blue – Blue,” they replied.

“And this?”

“White – White – White.”

“And this block?”

“Green – Green – Wait, that block isn’t green, it’s pink!”

No, not a difference in perception, but a college psych study of compliance.  Will the test subject, the third student, parrot the obviously erroneous answer of the two confederates? Will he say that pink is green?


So what’s the right way of looking at ACOs, physician alignment, hospital-physician collaboration and other initiatives to bind physicians to hospitals?

Is it that I, like you, see the true color – control not alignment, top down authority not participation, lockstep factory medicine as opposed to individualized patient care, cookbook versus innovation?

Or is it simply a matter of seeing the same color in slightly different ways?

The test, I suppose, is to construct a collaborative deal in the manner of what’s commonly referred to as a Dutch auction:  One party names the price and the other chooses to be the buyer or the seller.  Or your brother splits the brownie and you choose the bigger “half.”

So, if collaboration really is the real thing, let the hospital design the deal, but the physicians control it.

The hospital’s CEO is turning pink!  What color, exactly?

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