Building the Foundation for a Successful CON Hearing

It’s a tale as old as time… Your hospital wants to grow or add new services, but your competitors are keen to protect their turf. The outcome often hinges on who can most clearly and convincingly demonstrate their position to the Certificate of Need board.

Certificate of Need programs exist to monitor the growth and associated costs of health facilities and services. Led by a governing board, the programs can also serve a gatekeeping function when hospitals or health systems seek to discontinue services or overall operations. While no two CON programs are exactly alike, there are a few foundational strategies health care organizations can deploy to influence a successful outcome.

Assemble the right team.

Ensuring a successful CON hearing outcome takes a village. It’s critical to establish the right team to shepherd your organization through what will most likely be months of regulatory filings, stakeholder outreach, scenario planning and hearing preparation. Internal teams typically include representatives from departments such as business development, finance, legal, communications and any relevant clinical departments (such as cardiac program heads or ED directors); external team members often include specialized legal and communications experts, as well as a state-based CON consultant. Read on for more.

Select a state-based CON consultant.

For anything more than the simplest of projects, your CON dream team should likely include a state-based CON consultant. The governing practices and rules for CON processes vary greatly by state and can be complex to navigate. Sometimes even a small paperwork error can derail your project. A local consultant can help your organization anticipate regulatory hurdles, reach the right stakeholders and develop a compelling narrative to support your goals.

Engage support from an experienced communications team.

Winning a CON battle begins months in advance of filing. Building support among stakeholders, and most likely counterbalancing negative chatter, is key to establishing positive public sentiment and proving the value of your project. A knowledgeable communications firm with CON experience can help orchestrate a winning campaign by identifying the right messages and rallying key audiences around them. Working behind the scenes, they can also be instrumental in identifying and cultivating key advocates, scripting winning testimony and ensuring that media covering the issue understand your project and its merits.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

While the battle begins long before the hearing, don’t discount the importance of your testimony. Spend some time thinking through who will be responsible for delivering your message during the CON hearing, then plan out the content and cadence to ensure the right flow. Know what kind of visuals and supporting testimony can be provided. Hold a pre-hearing table read to highlight areas of weakness or strength and adjust accordingly.

Need a communications firm on your dream team? Lovell Communications has decades of experience managing CON campaigns in multiple states. Put our experience to work for you. Email or call 615-297-7766.