Healthcare providers around the world are shifting away from legacy systems and embracing new technologies. While this shift has been occurring for years, the pace of change has recently increased for many providers due to external influences, such as the need to transition much of their staff (mainly administrative staff) to remote work.
Regardless of the impetus for the organizational change you are pursuing, change management in healthcare is key. As you innovate and improve your processes and technology, employees at every level must understand why change is necessary and how it can make them more effective in their job.
Today, we’re sharing some tips for how to roll out a change management strategy that ensures employee adoption. We’ll also show you how to make change a more collaborative process rather than a mandate.
Improving Key Metrics
Even amid so much resistance, why are healthcare organizations undergoing ERP implementations? Aside from automating and streamlining administrative tasks, like appointment scheduling and insurance filing, ERP systems and EHR systems allow providers to improve patient care.
A few of the key operational metrics that these systems can help improve include:
- Length of average visit
- Readmission rates
- Average wait times
- Patient satisfaction
Ultimately, the benefits of ERP in healthcare are similar to the benefits of ERP in other industries – ERP can create a more streamlined and structured work environment that improves employee performance and removes inefficiencies.
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Challenges of Implementing Change in Healthcare
There are a few barriers that can hinder the successful implementation of any change. These include:
- Breakdowns in communication
- Inadequate workforce planning
- Lack of understanding around new technologies
- Lack of executive buy-in
- Lack of change management experience among the project team or among external resources (make sure your ERP implementation company has change management experience)
While all these factors can contribute to employee resistance, the healthcare niche has a unique force at play. In this field, clinical and administrative staff are more likely to view their job as a vocation or calling.
In other words, they not only have the education and technical skills required to perform in their role; they’re also drawn to it by an emotional or spiritual pull that exceeds anything they learned in medical school.
As such, they’re naturally attached to the way they do things and are suspicious any time a senior administrator initiates a transformative shift. Convincing these employees to loosen their grip on proven processes can be challenging, as they often resist any strategic agenda behind a technology implementation, even if there is concrete data behind it.
How to Employ Change Management in Healthcare Organizations
Despite any pushback you may experience, it’s worth the effort to keep making forward strides in your healthcare organization. The key is focusing on change management – one of the ERP implementation best practices we recommend for all clients.
Here are some steps you can take along the way to help optimize your organizational change management efforts:
1. Ensure Two-way Communication
Before, during, and after the change, it’s important to keep employee communication two-sided. In other words, resist the urge to simply rattle off a list of features and benefits. Instead, tailor your communication and ask for employee feedback. This will help you determine what additional change management efforts are necessary.
Some employees will benefit from one-on-one meetings where they can ask questions about their unique role. Others will respond best to group Q&A sessions. These are just two tactics that you might add to your communication plan. To learn about more tactics you can employ, read our blog post, 5 Change Management Communication Tips.
As mentioned earlier, not all ERP consulting firms have adequate change management experience, so it’s important to ensure that the change management plan they’re providing you includes all of the necessary tactics, tools and strategies.
2. Connect Employee Concerns to Project Goals
In addition to asking employees how they feel about the change, allow them to share their day-to-day pain points. Then, explain how the new technology or new processes will help solve those issues.
For instance, your administrative staff members might be tired of fielding patient complaints about office wait times. If so, explain how an EHR system or ERP solution can improve the scheduling process and patient interactions.
3. Ensure Alignment Among the Executive Team
For any change to be long-term and effective, your C-suite must be a united front. They must reach a consensus regarding the project vision even if your CEO and chief strategist have different goals.
This alignment will ensure that you have adequate resources and funding to ensure a successful ERP implementation. In addition, it will eliminate confusion among employees who might be hearing mixed messages from the top.
4. Create a Culture of Trust and Collaboration
As mentioned, healthcare providers are historically wary of change, due mainly to the close connection they feel to their occupation. That’s why it’s important to be as transparent and trustworthy as possible throughout the process.
Increasing project-related collaboration is a great way to build trust as employees are generally more trusting of leaders who are willing to listen to their concerns and ideas. Chances are, each of your employees has an overarching goal that motivates what they do. Asking employees what drives them helps you tailor your message to their unique passions and may even reveal additional opportunities for improvement that you may be able to address through advanced ERP functionality or through business process reengineering.
Navigating Change in Your Healthcare Organization
While the healthcare industry is embracing new technologies meant to enable automation, process efficiency, and in many cases, telehealth, they’re also realizing the challenges that come with rattling the status quo.
However, we have found that employing change management in healthcare organizations is an effective way to mitigate change resistance. Our organizational change management consultants have helped organizations across a variety of industries manage the people side of change through the use of organizational assessments, customized training, strategic communication and more. Learn about the importance of change management and learn what other EPR consulting services we offer by requesting a free consultation below.