I’ve worked with hundreds of healthcare organizations to evaluate and implement technologies that encourage increased efficiency and better patient care. Each is faced with its own unique challenges and opportunities, but they all share one thing in common: technology is easy when compared to managing the changes it will inspire. There are a number of ways to approach change management, but in this industry, providers need more than just an effective change management methodology. Healthcare organizations need to consider change preparedness even more important, and determine whether their organization is inherently ready for a change before embarking on any project.
But how do you know whether your organization is really ready for change? Here are the traits I’ve seen make healthcare organizations successful in preparing for and managing change:
- Bandwidth from the leadership team – We’ve all heard good management comes “from the top down,” but in healthcare, having a strong leadership team means more than a positive attitude and moral support. In order to effectively implement change, the entire leadership team – physician, nurse, IT and hospital leaders – needs to be committed to making positive changes, have an understanding of how the organization will accept the change and the challenges that may arise, and come to the table with the bandwidth to support the project from start to finish. You may rock the boat, but if you understand the benefits and believe they outweigh the risks, you’ll be setting yourself up for success at the very beginning.
- Clinician engagement, before, during and after – Clinicians, especially physicians, are all about what I call local optimization – what are the latest and greatest tools that will help me to do my job most effectively? And to be fair, they’ve had to take this approach in order to survive in an increasingly complex healthcare environment. Healthcare organizations need to involve clinicians from the start – during the decision making-process – so that they can see and understand the benefits of a system-wide approach and determine how they can become a part of the broader initiative.
- A roadmap for changes in the future – Finally, in addition to this pre-planning and constituent involvement, it’s important to consider how this change will fit into all the other priorities a healthcare organization has on its plate. For example, if you’re looking at ways to secure patient health information that’s being shared between clinicians via text message, consider whether you may be implementing a broader communications platform further down the line – one that secures texting, voice messaging, email, phone calls, and all other forms of communications – before implementing point solutions, that may or may not integrate well into the broader platform. Assessing the current changes underway and the future changes you’re thinking about will help determine how this change fits into the broader vision of the organization.
What other ways does your organization prepare for impending changes?