National & Academic
Health Systems


Elite Systems. Transformative Change.

National and Academic Health System Practice

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.

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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.


Two market-leading health systems – a powerhouse academic medical center and an esteemed community hospital – decided to unite to provide the 360-degree care required to survive today’s healthcare environment. The systems had distinct cultures, stories, reimbursement and compensation strategies and philosophies of care. They needed to find common ground, then communicate their shared vision to employees, the media and local stakeholders. 


The intensive project required deep understanding of academic medical centers – plus the ability to develop integration plans in tandem with M&A work. 

We aligned the systems’ Communications, Legal, HR, Operations teams and consultants working on merger communications to build the merger’s shared message platform and campaign, then curated the communications. 

To deploy, we trained and armed C-Suite members and facility CEOs with vision messaging for internal and external audiences, strategies for government hearings and a robust media plan. 

After celebrating deal close, integration work took center stage. Leveraging cultural assessments of the legacy organizations, we built a new structure and strategic plan for the massive communications team. We also created:

  • A comprehensive communications integration platform to establish a single system voice, differentiate the client and reaffirm position as industry leader
  • A roadmap to build the new, shared culture through engagement and empowerment
  • Metrics to show effectiveness of communications and engagement


The systems merged and integrated successfully – a complete M&A win.  Two years later, we helped them with another strategic partnership that launched the state’s largest academic health system. 

System leaders kept employees engaged throughout the formidable change and earned positive media coverage reflecting the positive external positioning.

The communications infrastructure for the new system aligned and retained all original communications and marketing personnel. 


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.