The health care sector is poised for more mergers and acquisitions, particularly in health plan and biotechnology segments. UnitedHealth Group’s deal PacifiCare is only the beginning of a hot M&A season the next couple years.

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are often essential to a company’s growth and viability. However, a staggering 70 percent of mergers fail, often with devastating consequences for all concerned. For healthcare executives contemplating a deal, Mastering the Merger is filled with excellent, actionable advice. It is written in a tight, compelling way that business leaders will find quite useful.

Mastering the Merger focuses on the importance of due diligence well before targets are identified and M&A decisions are made. Specifically, it describes:

1. The most important questions prospective acquirers must ask before consummating any deal, regardless of size. Here the authors show executives how to ask and answer the big questions.

2. Strategies and tactics to effectively target acquisitions and close deals.

3. How to decide which aspects of a newly acquired business to leave independent and which to integrate. The authors focus here on how to integrate quickly but where it matters.

4. How to anticipate and deal with contingencies. The emphasis is on how to predict and manage the unexpected.

Authors David Harding and Sam Rovit are partners at Bain and Company and write often for the Harvard Business Review. Bain and Company is an elite business consulting firm that specializes in increasing the underlying market value of companies. Because successful mergers are a key method of increasing a company’s value, Harding and Rovit are in an excellent position to share what works and what does not.