SSB Case Studies

SSB Solutions Case Studies
Hospitals and Physician Groups


A large Midwestern tertiary care hospital asked SSB to help it develop a new physician alignment strategy. Although the organization had extensive medical directorships organized by service line, physicians felt that they were not appropriately represented or included in administration decision-making. SSB interviewed physician leadership from all major service lines and worked closely with Administration to develop a series of physician alignment initiatives, addressing all of the major issues and concerns raised by physicians, including the hospital's overall physician relations philosophy, hospital-physician communications, the primary care network strategy, the regional referral network, growth strategies for all the service lines, information technology planning, and a new organization structure.


A large community hospital with a substantial heart program in a competitive urban market wanted to strengthen its ties with current physicians--as well as attract new physicians--in order to capitalize on the enormous opportunities for growing the heart service line. After analyzing the market and interviewing nearly all physicians in the heart service line, SSB recommended the development of a joint venture heart hospital as the best vehicle for long-term, sustainable, physician alignment. SSB also worked with the hospital and its physicians on the planning for the new venture.


A multi-hospital academic medical center in New England had a mixture of foundation-based physicians and independent community-based physicians. In an increasingly competitive market, the client wanted to strengthen physician ties, especially with community-based primary care physicians. SSB spearheaded an initiative to create a physician-hospital partnership around the development and management of an integrated delivery system. Through shared leadership and the joint resolution of numerous strategic issues, the parties forged an effective working partnership that enhanced and strengthened the system's competitive position.


A multi-hospital system in a major urban market had a substantial heart program. It acquired its largest competitor, located nearby, which also had a major CV market presence. The client had completed a comprehensive plan for integrating service lines, but the cardiologists and CV surgeons on both staffs were not supportive of the direction that Administration wanted to pursue.

SSB was asked to come in as an independent, objective third-party to conduct an impartial investigation and recommend a path to secure greater physician buy-in. SSB interviewed a large number of physicians from both staffs, as well as representatives from Administration. In its final report, SSB suggested a direction that differed from the Administration's preferred approach. After much debate and discussion, the client moved forward with SSB's recommended strategies, ultimately leading to the successful integration of the two CV programs.


An academic medical center in an urban market famous for competing, world-class heart centers, faced growing dissatisfaction on the part of its private cardiologists (who outnumbered the university cardiologists who controlled the department). SSB was asked to investigate and recommend solutions. SSB conducted extensive interviews to gain an understanding of the complex political dynamics, and then recommended a series of strategies for resolving the immediate conflicts, growing the heart service line and evolving the relationship between the hospital and the medical school.


A large community hospital in a major sunbelt city started hearing rumors that CV surgeons and cardiologists on its staff were being courted by several for-profit heart hospital development companies for JV heart hospital projects in the hospital's service area. For a variety of reasons, the hospital was concerned that its medical staff was becoming more and more vulnerable to such recruitment. SSB was asked to diagnose the problem and recommend solutions. SSB found the cause and recommended a set of initiatives to address physicians' immediate concerns as well as a break-out vision for moving the hospital's cardiology program to a new level in concert with the physicians. SSB's solutions held the staff in place while administration worked on gaining approval for the new program.



Health Plans and Managed Care Organizations


A large, multi-state health plan with over three million members had lost its strategic focus and competitive edge after years of robust growth. This fact was evident from a growing number of performance issues in key business units and minimal emphasis on strategic planning and innovation.

SSB worked extensively with the plan's board and senior management team to reinvogirate the firm's historic strength in key product lines, deploy innovative IT solutions for employers and members and re-position the firm as a respected, consumer-focused leader in the health plan sector. Based in large part on the impact of SSB's efforts, the company has enjoyed significant growth in recent years and its stock is now at an all-time high.


A large national health plan found increasingly that its existing IT capabilities were falling short of the robust solutions needed to offer consumer-driven health plans.

The plan retained SSB to evaluate a range of options for re-shaping its IT infrastructure to accommodate anticipated growth in consumer-focused benefit plans. Potential strategies for moving forward included development and installation of new applications, outsourcing selected IT functions and key business processes, or acquiring appropriate CDHP technology through acquisition or partnership. Working collaboratively with corporate staff, SSB pulled evaluated competitior strategies, assessed selected application vendors and potential strategic partners.


Two mid-Atlantic HMOs were in the process of exploring a very complex merger. The parties had been talking for months, but could not reach a decision. SSB was asked to orchestrate a process that would lead to a decision, one way or another. SSB worked with executives and Board members from both organizations to define the issues, barriers and opportunities associated with the possible merger. SSB also engineered and facilitated a process aimed at resolving a long list of issues as a prerequisite to the parties entering into a Letter of Intent. One key dimension of the project was the development of a strategy to create a joint venture between the merged HMO and the physicians that would lead to tighter affiliation and integration of physician and payor interests. Ultimately, the parties decided not to go forward with the merger, in part because one of the HMOs was owned by multiple competing hospitals and they could not agree on direction.


A New England HMO owned partly by a multi-hospital academic medical center and partly by its affiliated PHO had reached a strategic crossroads. Leadership believed the time had come to take the HMO to a new level. However, the organization could not afford the required capital, so it began exploring alternatives, including a sale or partnering with a larger health plan.

SSB participated in the evaluation of the strategic options, and spearheaded the strategic partnering process. Along the way, SSB helped the physician owners (a PHO) understand the strategic options and the financial implications, and helped to forge a consensus among physicians concerning the appropriate strategic direction. Through the process, the organization selected one of the health plans in the region that met the criteria that SSB helped define and that demonstrated a cultural fit.



New Ventures


A multi-billion dollar electronics manufacturer with limited understanding of healthcare had a product development team exploring potential applications of its IP and technology in point-of-care diagnostic testing. The team had met with some success in developing several strategic relationships with significant potential.

The company retained SSB to present a strategic overview of the POC test market, evaluate the teams efforts to date, and recommend how best to move forward. While the client had an initial bias towards folding the product group into a new company with outside investors, after SSB's analysis, the board and management decided to incubate the group further based a number of strategic factors and opportunities that could boost significantly their potential valuation as an independent entity.


A $700 million publicly-traded medical services provider was interested in an early-stage stem cell therapeutic opportunity that, if successful, could dramatically improve outcomes in its area of clinical focus. One of the firm's strategic partners had just initiated Phase I clinical trials using this innovative approach and had contacted the company about a potential investment to support their efforts.

On behalf of its client, SSB analyzed the current state of the prospective partner's development efforts, their proposed go-to-market strategy, anticipated financial needs and competing research efforts in the same field. Based on its analysis, SSB recommended a "go slow" strategy, working to keep the discussions going, provide limited support in selected areas of need and otherwise stay close to critical developments in the field.


A venture-funded company had developed an exciting new proprietary technology-intravascular coils that significantly enhanced MRI imaging and tracking. Despite its advanced technology, the Company had burned through 90% of its initial funding-over $20 million-and yet it had no agreement on strategic direction or product focus; lacked a viable business plan; and was hampered by weak management. The company's board retained SSB to provide interim management; define a new strategic direction; and raise new money.

SSB reduced the monthly burn rate from $300,000 to $30,000; defined a new strategic direction and product focus; selected a research partner; repaired significantly damaged relationships in the scientific and clinical communities; and conducted meetings with a number of potential investors, ultimately securing $4 million in new financing.