Res Publica Group had a front row seat to one of the nation’s largest and most heavily watched healthcare industry mergers. The proposal to bring together NorthShore University HealthSystem and Advocate Health Care involved 45,000 employees and physicians, billions of dollars in revenue and hundreds of thousands of patients. We were brought on board early before intentions were announced, and helped the parties navigate an extensive public, state and regulatory approval process. The complex communication challenges they managed, were on par with the operational and legal hurdles they would also face.
In 2015, NorthShore University HealthSystem began one of the most heavily watched journeys to merger in the history of the industry. But announcing it was merely the first chapter in a story that lasted more than 2 ½ years, included decisive milestones and extended to national discussions around the affordability of healthcare in America.
Res Publica was charged with defining and activating a multi-tiered communications strategy which would:
  1. engage physicians
  2. keep more than 45,000 employees informed and assured
  3. build enthusiasm among each system’s patients and local communities
  4. support counsel on a legal strategy through the Federal court system, and most importantly
  5. protect NorthShore’s hard-earned reputation

We built a communications toolkit that established a strong case for support yet was flexible enough to evolve as the audiences and dynamics of the legal process changed. Our approach included personalized communications from senior leaders which helped garner allies and answer questions from diverse audiences. Regular town hall meetings and a digital hub for merger communications gave employees, physicians and community members a unique opportunity to obtain real-time information and engage directly with those leaders.

When a challenge by the FTC increased the stakes, we were prepared to message and take action quickly. Dozens of media interviews, one-on-one meetings and editorial board visits helped us define the narrative and manage the reputation with every turn. Externally, we remained engaged with community representatives and third party allies to strengthen the narrative from the ground up. Our strategy was to anticipate and prepare for every possible outcome, while protecting and even enhancing the System’s reputation.

When the process turned from the court of public opinion to the court of law, we supported counsel and our client throughout. Both content and messaging were in place for immediate deployment, regardless of the outcome. The case saw many ups including approval by a Federal Court. And though the merger was eventually halted on appeal, a national dialogue about the future of healthcare had been sparked and today, we continue to support NorthShore in its market-leading position.