Everyone probably agrees that change isn’t easy. And for healthcare, it’s not only difficult, it’s also complex. There are a multitude of barriers to change including overburdened resources, complicated regulatory requirements, lack of incentives and more.
Many cancer clinics recognize the need for new technologies and workflows to deliver better care and control costs, but aren’t sure where to start. As the pioneer in patient-engagement technology for cancer care, we have successfully helped many clinics over the years. Each time we have found there are three things that are crucial to successful change management.
A Committed Executive Sponsor
When a clinic recognizes the need for a change or a new technology, getting that change implemented without executive commitment will be very difficult. Projects like these require resources including financial support, time from staff who are already stretched too far, tools to ensure buy-in from all stakeholders and protection from competing interests. An executive sponsor can keep the project moving forward – whether it’s addressing resistance to change or breaking a deadlock at decision points or any number of roadblocks.
Clear and Ongoing Communication
This is, perhaps, the most challenging and important component of a successful workflow change. Your stakeholders need to believe that the change is worth it. Your patients deserve smooth and coordinated delivery of care. Often each stakeholder has limited visibility of the others so it’s not easy to understand the need for the change. Clearly communicating the problem you’re solving and the solution to all stakeholders will help to get everyone on the same page. Change is also likely to cause some disruption during implementation. If providers, staff and patients know what to expect and when, that disruption can be kept to a minimum.
An Experienced Manager
A project leader who has implemented workflow changes, especially with a technology solution, is imperative. An experienced implementation partner knows how to craft a careful plan, allocate the appropriate resources, spot potential risks, maintain the channels of communication and keep the project on track. All of these things will be important to the success of the change management. A partner who’s been through a similar change at a number of different clinics has seen what works, has collected lessons learned and can spot issues early. They can ensure that best practices are being implemented, which ultimately meets the goal of any project like this: better patient care.
Whatever the reason for changing a workflow, whether to improve patient care, reduce costs, comply with the changing landscape of healthcare or all three, taking time to lay the groundwork before the project starts will make a big difference in the final outcome. And you’ll gain the trust and support for the next change that comes along.