National & Academic
Health Systems


Elite Systems. Transformative Change.

Leaders of academic medical centers and national health systems face unprecedented pressure to drive transformational change – not just for their organizations, but for the entire industry.

We know it takes significant resources to implement the big ideas that are making healthcare better. But we also know real, positive change is possible. Each day, we partner with America’s elite healthcare organizations, helping turn innovative ideas into action with compelling impact.

Our team assists national and academic health system leaders in securing wins by:

healthcare mergers and acquisitions

Collaborating alongside strategic, legal and financial advisors to reach shared goals

advisors available any time of day

Swiftly executing with our deep bench of senior-level advisors, available around the clock

measuring success

Measuring success by meeting benchmarks, tracking results and communicating those metrics to stakeholders

Our specialized National & Academic Health System Practice helps leaders drive change, achieve partnership and growth goals, solidify their thought leadership platform, protect their reputation in times of crisis and shape the future of healthcare.

Subscribe to High Stakes »

A leadership blog written for senior-level healthcare executives, High Stakes offers insights and counsel on the communications challenges of today’s transformative hospital environment.

National Health System Case Studies

Leaders of a major not-for-profit system needed to disrupt its care model to focus on population health. But employees were burnt out on change. Recently, the health system had rolled out a new EHR system, landed a $250 million campus expansion, redesigned its compensation structure and more. With significant transformation on the horizon, leadership feared that employees wouldn’t see how it could improve patient care and, eventually, the work environment.


First, we cased the communications infrastructure and employees’ feelings towards change. We polled employees, scheduled listening sessions and used other tactics that provided valuable information and elevated their voices. They told us they needed to understand the reasons for change before
buying in.

They wanted to know how change would affect patients and their own livelihoods. They needed one source of information about change—plus opportunities to discuss it with their managers.

So, we got to work. We crafted a story about why and how change was happening. Then, we put that story in the hands of 1,000-plus leaders from across the system at a half-day training event. We gave them specific tools: a one-pager and a video that showed how changes would improve patient care. We also launched a new intranet – a single source of truth.

We coached leaders on how to communicate, then held them accountable for talking to employees.


Nine months after we began our work, 94 percent of leaders reported that they felt completely prepared to communicate the health system’s new strategy to their teams. The same survey showed that 87 percent of the health system’s employees were aware of the strategic plan and vision for the future and 97 percent self-reported as engaged.

Perhaps most importantly, the communications plan we created for the system continues to evolve in step with its three-year strategic plan. We didn’t just solve an acute problem; we built an infrastructure to manage change.


Leaders at a national hospital company learned that a “60 Minutes” investigative reporter was calling physicians and questioning its admission procedures. Leadership was torn about the best way to move forward. On the one hand, they knew that engaging the reporter risked calling attention to a non-issue if the story never aired. On the other, refusing to comment could give off the appearance that the company had something to hide.


First, we assessed the threat. We quickly learned from a variety of sources that the story would likely run and that we needed to get ahead of it.

We immediately convened stakeholders from the company’s communications, operations and legal teams to coordinate our crisis response plan. Together, we deployed the right team members to out-report the “60 Minutes” crew, making sure that we had all of the information they did. We hired an outside analytics firm to review the company’s admissions data – and the research showed the hospital’s admissions reporting procedures were unproblematic.

Armed with those findings, we engaged reporters and producers to determine the scope of the story. We learned what was likely to run and when.

We then pursued a “pre-sponse” strategy, providing that information, along with data from the outside firm’s analysis, to our own employees and Wall Street analysts, scooping the “60 Minutes” piece and ensuring that key audiences were prepared.


The “60 Minutes” story aired, but did not impact the share price or create an engagement problem with employees. The week following the broadcast, most reports from Wall Street analysts referred to the data from our independent analysis. With a coordinated team stacked with our advisers and hospital company leaders, we turned what could have been a major media mishap into a barely noticeable blip.


A not-for-profit public health system was growing rapidly. But while planning to announce a new trauma center, children’s hospital, cancer center and more, leaders realized that employees were suffering from whiplash. They had recently been hit with a series of major changes that created a feeling of chaos and uncertainty. Leaders worried that without a compelling vision to bring employees on board, they would lose their way as a system.


 We began by listening. Over two days, we spoke with more than 100 health system leaders to learn how they perceived their organization’s strategy. 

We did two things in parallel: We conducted executive workshops to align the leadership team on when and how major change was occurring throughout the organization, and we distilled the existing strategy into a cohesive, compelling story to engage employees. Then, we translated the health system’s obscure goals into metrics that the team could easily understand and own. 

To anchor the vision and help with awareness and understanding, we created a visual and used it on all materials–badges, posters, a new intranet. Over nine months, we designed a calendar of strategic content and compelling materials to explain how specific changes aligned with the health system’s purpose. 


After two years with a clearly articulated strategy, the system continues to share major announcements through the messaging platform we built. To this day, more than a thousand employees visit the intranet site each month. 

This thoughtful, consistent approach has created stronger engagement. About 81 percent of employees responded to the 2017 engagement survey, which reflects 750 more responses than the previous year. The average employee satisfaction score is around 82 percent, up from 2016. This, we believe, is a testament to a clear strategy and solid communications plan that informs employees and reinforces the health system’s vision.