Meaningful process change AND clinician satisfaction – an impossible balancing act?

By Jeff Brown  /  16 Sep 2013

As an organization known for delivering industry-leading service, it was a blow for me to hear a consultant recently say that we are “too accommodating” with clinicians to be able to really improve operational outcomes. This consultant suggested that we not allow clinicians to customize our applications to meet their personal needs. Instead, she suggested we implement standard templates that are proven to improve operational efficiency, and restrict clinical staff to operating within those strict parameters.

This conversation made me ask questions of myself, and think about how the industry as a whole operates today. Was this consultant right? When implementing technology, is the only option for driving meaningful change that healthcare provider organizations must implement template workflows? And, does it have to be at the expense of clinician satisfaction? Can they not accomplish both?

In my humble opinion, you can have both. I’m not suggesting that healthcare organizations give clinicians total freedom to customize every piece of technology to fit their personal needs. This could create disjointed workflows that actually impede their ability to provide high quality care efficiently. It is necessary to establish some guardrails, but allow some customization within those guardrails that enable you to maintain their satisfaction with and interest in working at your organization.

There are three key steps necessary to achieving the right balance:

  1. First, the health system needs to understand how much change the organization is ready for. If you’re undergoing a huge shift in your payment structure, it might not be the best time to throw a new workflow or technology at your clinical staff. Make sure your organization is executing good change preparedness.
  2. Next, it’s important that key clinician leadership sign off on the guardrails. Without their buy in, the implementation will be nothing short of ineffective, no matter how high the incentive to participate.
  3. And finally, top-level organization leadership needs to have the strength to weather the storm of inevitable “transition pain” and commit to constantly communicating and reinforcing the “why” that’s driving the change. There will be pushback, but just remember that at some point the NEW thing will become THE thing that clinicians are embracing.

Clinician satisfaction might take a little longer and require some patience and extra effort, but it’s possible to both improve workflows and processes in your organization while maintaining (perhaps even improving!) clinician satisfaction.

It just takes time.










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