Negotiating new contracts is often a complex endeavor, particularly when parties have had a challenging relationship in the past. This was particularly the case in the contract negotiations between the Victoria Hospitalist Service and Island Health, which had stalled during 2014 and 2015, reaching an all-time low in March 2015 when the interim contract had expired and nothing had been agreed upon to replace it.
It was at this time that Kim Kerrone, Island Health’s Vice-President, Chief Financial Officer became familiar with Vested®, a novel methodology to guide contract discussions. Vested® is an approach that focuses on building relationships between parties rather than a more traditional focus on transactional negotiation.
The Victoria hospitalists and Island Health agreed to use the Vested® methodology to rebuild trust and establish the groundwork for a new contract negotiation. This was not only the first time this methodology was used within Island Health, but also the first time it was used with a physician contract in BC and Canada.
Despite the use of this promising methodology, having hospitalist physicians attend the Vested Team Meetings on their days off was essential to its success. To address this challenge, Dr. Ken Smith sought South Island MSA Facility Engagement funding, which was used to compensate numerous hospitalists to regularly attend these meetings.
This funding ensured regular Hospitalist attendance at each of the five different Vested Teams (Governance, Excellence, Best Value, Sustainability, and Relationship) between 3-5 times per month, leading to improved communication, relationship building, and idea sharing. As hospitalists participated, others came to see the value of attending these meetings. “The word spread quickly which encouraged more Hospitalists to join the teams and to become part of the collaboration”, explained the team leads.
As a result of these collaborations, a new Hospitalist contract was signed and physician-administration relationships significantly improved. Dr. Smith reflected on the negotiations, saying “The Vested process allowed us to see each other’s needs and goals and how to blend the two into a positive working framework that could work going forward. The concept of working together as “we” was a unique experience”.
In addition to cementing the new contract, the negotiations gave rise to several new quality improvement ideas which have been generated within the Hospitalist team.