ACCORD helps health care organizations realize their potential – their visions of what they want to become. And ACCORD strengthens organizations by providing them with the management and governance strategies they need to respond to the rapid and dramatic changes in today's health care environment.
ACCORD does this by helping clients to:
- Develop strategic plans using a participative approach to ensure stakeholder support;
- Develop plans to achieve strategic goals and objectives;
- Ensure that governance and management structures support organizational strategies;
- Facilitate processes that result in collaborative arrangements and/or mergers among health care providers;
- Assess and shape organization culture;
- Increase team effectiveness at the board, executive, and medical staff levels;
- Enhance board and management performance.
The process of strategic planning is as important as the plan. Through participation in the process, stakeholders "buy in" to the changes that result and resistance to the plan is reduced, if not eliminated. For these reasons, ACCORD ensures a "team approach" to strategic planning through:
- Meaningfully involving the organization's key stakeholders: sponsors, board, physicians, senior management and other relevant parties;
- Eliciting board and executive staff input into the planning process to be used;
- Creating a workable, flexible plan with clear accountability for implementation.
Through these participative processes, clients clarify their mission and core values, identify their vision for the longer-term future, develop measurable goals, and create shorter term objectives.
ACCORD's strategic planning counsel can be as comprehensive as the client desires, i.e., beginning with information gathering and proceeding through implementation. Or, consultants can offer targeted planning interventions on specific issues, such as new product/service development.
Typical steps in a comprehensive strategic planning engagement include:
- Convene a project initiation meeting;
- Orient the planning task force;
- Gather and analyze data / information;
- Conduct stakeholder input sessions;
- Facilitate strategic planning retreats with planning task force;
- Conduct stakeholder feedback sessions;
- Facilitate planning task force follow-up meeting;
- Prepare final strategic plan document.
In any case, ACCORD's approach is collaborative, working with the client's data, expertise, and staff, thus minimizing the cost to the client and increasing the likelihood of successful implementation due to the active participation of key stakeholders in the process.
One of ACCORD’s major areas of expertise is governance. Pam Knecht, Ed Kazemek and Barry Bader are all nationally-recognized experts in not-for-profit health care governance. They have served as faculty for the two largest national organizations dedicated to improving governance effectiveness – the American Hospital Association’s Center for Healthcare Governance and The Governance Institute. In addition, they were selected as Governance Advisors for CHG’s and TGI’s member hospitals and health systems. They also write extensively on governance topics (see the Our Work section for our recent articles and white papers).
ACCORD provides a wide range of governance consulting assistance, from a one-time board retreat to a comprehensive assessment of governance structure and functioning. Brief descriptions of each governance service are provided below.
Comprehensive Governance Assessments
ACCORD recognizes that the massive changes taking place in the health care industry have forced organizations to re-think their governance models. As experts in governance, the firm provides technically sound and implementable recommendations based on:
- Comparative research and analysis of similar organizations;
- The AHA's Center for Healthcare Governance and The Governance Institute's extensive research databases;
- Interviews with key board members and executives regarding current governance and organization structures;
- ACCORD's observations regarding the unique characteristics and strategy of the organization; and
- Application of the firm's experience and expertise in creating effective and efficient governance functioning and structure.
ACCORD's assessments result in specific, actionable recommendations for how to improve governance at multiple levels. The type of issues identified and addressed through a comprehensive governance assessment often include:
- Aligning the governance structure with the organization’s mission and vision;
- Streamlining the number of boards and committees across the organization;
- Clarifying roles, responsibilities, and authority among the various boards and committees and between board and management;
- Redefining the composition of each board and committee;
- Modifying policies and procedures to ensure they are consistent with best practices and legal and regulatory requirements (e.g., the Internal Revenue Service's Form 990 Instructions);
- Increasing communication among and within governance entities;
- Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of board and committee meetings.
Board Orientation and Education
For boards to be effective in this challenging health care environment, their individual members must receive up-front orientation and on-going education. ACCORD works with clients to develop materials and facilitate sessions for both new and existing board members in large group settings (e.g., all who serve in governance) or in small meetings (e.g., the hospital or system board).
As a result of these educational / orientation sessions, board members gain a better understanding of the following:
- What boards do (e.g., core responsibilities, fiduciary duties of board members);
- The environment in which health care boards operate (e.g., national health care trends);
- What other boards are doing (e.g., best practices);
- What boards can do differently to be more effective.
ACCORD consultants are also knowledgeable facilitators and speakers for board retreats. ACCORD can custom-design and facilitate an entire board retreat, or speak on a specific topic as part of a conference.
Issues addressed during board retreats have included:
- Education on national health care issues;
- Information on governance best practices;
- Board self-evaluation and action planning;
- Board goal-setting;
- System / Hospital strategic direction-setting;
- Kick-off for a comprehensive governance assessment;
- Board responsibilities and fiduciary duties.
- Board Evaluation and Development
Merger / Acquisition / Collaboration Services
Financial and competitive pressures are causing both strong and weak health care organizations to look for ways to join together for mutual benefit. The management and facilitation of these efforts must begin long before the "letter of intent" is signed. Indeed, failure to address key organizational issues up-front causes many merger/collaboration initiatives to fail or, at the very least, not achieve the objectives that originally stimulated the discussions.
Physician Relationship Enhancement
To be successful, health care delivery organizations must foster healthy relationships among physicians, and between physicians and the hospital or health system. Strong, effective relationships with physicians result in higher quality clinical care, improved patient satisfaction, increased access to care, and improved financial results for all parties.
The majority of health care organizations today are members of multi-unit systems and continue to strive for meaningful integration. For those organizations considering the formation of or joining a health care system, ACCORD helps its clients determine the most appropriate strategy to pursue.
Organization Assessment and Design
ACCORD provides in-depth analysis of organizational and management structures and can help executive staffs manage significant change in organizations.