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Advancing care through partnership

Tommy Ibrahim, MD, CEO of Bassett Healthcare Network, provides insights on reinventing a health system for success. In this video series, he offers advice on the importance of partnership, improving processes, addressing concerns and aligning missions.

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Video: Optum Partnership vs. Traditional Vendor Relationship

- So, how would you say that this relationship is, is different from either prior relation, vendor relationships that either Basset's had or you've experienced in the past?

- You know, we certainly had explored the opportunity of, you know, looking outward and bringing in multiple vendors to, to create, probably, you know, what would have been a similar sort of arrangement. Having said that though, to find a single solution in an organization with as much depth as much experience, you know, with it, with an advanced and, and very, I would say good reputation in each of these capabilities is quite hard to find. And as we piece this together, as we saw the value proposition of having a backbone, an organization that can bring so much innovation and technology and support and expertise in one partner really was important for us to explore and I'm happy that we did.

- And your employees are obviously a big central focus of the relationship and 95 plus percent of them are moving over to Optum as part of this relationship. How, how big of a driver of the relationship was that for you and for the vast organization overall?

- Yeah, I mean, I can't underscore enough how important that was, you know, going into this, you know, particularly in an environment like ours, small communities that we serve, you know, the question of how are our people going to be impacted was central to all of this. I think as we went through this process very collaboratively through the due diligence, you know, Mike, very well, that, that was a question that, you know, was appropriately positioned by our board, appropriately positioned by our leadership team, and one that we continually dwelled on, you know, invested a ton of time to ensure that we were doing this the right way for our people.

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A new partner strategy

Innovation, technology and support in one partner

Discover the promise of Bassett Healthcare Network, where our employees are a key focus of the relationship.

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Video: Enter Into a Partnership: Timeline, Process and Due Diligence

- To back up for a second. I think one of the the things I come across is a lot of folks are in system CEOs like yourself, are a little reluctant to enter into these types of relationships is a lot of a significant relationships. Most a lot of employees and personnel, and can be quite a long process to work through. Talk to us a little bit about the timeline and just how that transpired from your initial interest in doing something like this, to you know where we are today.

- Totally, I think the entire due diligence process, as well as through our negotiations took about nine or 10 months. It felt comfortable throughout the entire time. I think the best advice I would give to anyone sort of exploring this, is to engage very early with your board and make sure that we pull in the appropriate representation from that perspective. But also, I think one of the best things that we did that helped accelerate the timeline was to pull in our leadership early on. And I'm talking about the leaders that were, overseeing these key functions on the Bassett side prior to their transition. Their buy-in, their expertise, their support for this conversation was absolutely critical in this. And without question there were some early concerns and, you know, reservations. But as we continued you know cultivating relationship, as we continue due diligence process, you know often being open to and available to us to answer a lot of questions that we had. We were able to really accelerate the conversation. And I think, well, I know we landed in a very, very good place with 95% of our leaders and people transitioning over. So, you know, could we have done it faster? Maybe, but I think it was a very comfortable timeframe and looking back now, I think it was very successful and well thought out designed land.

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Entering into a new partnership

Timelines, process and due diligence

Accelerate the timeline by pulling in leadership early on, applying due diligence and being open to change.

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Video: Working Through Internal Concerns and the Impact on Bassett

- Yeah, I guess to touch on the, some of the internal concerns. Can you give me an example or two of when this was first brought up or you brought it to your leadership teams. Any examples of just initial concerns and how we either collectively or you individually worked through some of those with your folks.

- Yeah, again, just kind of hearkening back on the, the notion of how is this gonna impact our people very much at the top of our mind. The other big thing was, how is this gonna impact culture? Bassett has a very proud culture and deservedly, so over being here for over 110 years. So, how would bringing in an organization like Optum, which is a for-profit company, very large, very different from what we are. How's that gonna change sort of the footprint of Bassett and what does this mean? Those are all questions that we had to kind of go through. And I think as we answered those questions for people that this was not some sort of takeover. That this was a really, actually a method and a mechanism to sustain Basset's independence as a healthcare system. That these capabilities are gonna help propel us forward to really realize and capitalize not only on our vision but the mission that we are here to serve and that we're gonna really make sure that our two cultures, across both organizations are aligned. Once we really started to talk about that with our leadership, with our board members, with our people, it became quite clear that this really could work.

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Working through internal concerns

The impact on Bassett Healthcare's mission and culture

Partnering as a method and mechanism can better sustain independence as a health care system.

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Video: Lessons Learned about Partnerships and Advice for Executives

- Yeah, I'm sure there's a lot of executives out there that a year ago, maybe two years ago were certainly with the dynamic of COVID introduced capital challenges, administrative costs seems to always be increasing. There's folks that were probably in your shoes a year ago they're thinking about their options. What advice would you give to them?

- I would say, continue to explore your options as well. Look outward into the industry, identifying other solutions. And I think doing side-by-side analysis, it'll become I think apparent to each of the executives what's best for their unique situation, unique organizations. I would say, engage your board early and quickly, and definitely have conversations with leadership in the process, engaging those expert leaders as well, to really help you get good intelligence and do the appropriate due diligence upfront. And think through all of the potential unintended consequences of any outsourced or any vendor partnership relationship.

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Lessons learned about partnerships

Advice for health systems contemplating a partnership

Hear how our partnership vision addresses our unique situation and organization while gaining scale and resources.

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