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Change management in the health-tech industry

As a provider of clinical technology, we have recently been reflecting as to why the adoption and implementation of new technology is slower than other industries – especially in the B2B space. As a healthcare professional myself, I started thinking about my approach to choosing technology solutions. Coming from a corporate background, I started putting the puzzle pieces together.

Change management of healthcare professionals should never be approached lightly or without proper planning and analysis of the stakeholders.

As professionals, healthcare providers want to be consulted and engaged about the tools they are expected to use – especially in clinical network environments.  They have to trust the technology. And without clinical trust, the tool will simply be ignored.  This engagement and consultation should last through the full lifecycle of the project.  From identifying the need or problem, the selection and evaluation of these solutions, testing and finally, implementation.  Failure to do so could significantly reduce adoption and the ability for solutions to show a return on investment.

So who are they and who talks to them?

Part of any IT project, healthcare or not, should be about understanding all the stakeholders. Engaging through management structures to identify a selection of end-users and engaging them from the start is crucial.  These stakeholders that represent end-users should understand their role and the responsibility that comes with it.  They are influencing the solution on behalf of all their colleagues throughout the network or organisation.  Make them feel special and use this in your communication strategy.

No need to reinvent the wheel:  The Prosci ® ADKAR model

One of the most widely adopted models to implement and guide individuals through change is the Prosci ® ADKAR model. ADKAR is an acronym that represents the five tangible and concrete outcomes that people need to achieve for lasting change:  awarenessdesireknowledgeability, and reinforcement. Based on these specific outcomes, it becomes easier to build a change plan that will achieve these four outcomes.

Brief overview of each stage:

Awareness of the business reasons for change. Awareness is a goal/outcome of early communications related to an organisational change. During this phase, you should be transparent about which problem you are trying to solve and what the impact of this is. 

Desire to engage and participate in the change. Desire is the first goal/outcome of sponsorship and resistance management. Make the solution relevant to the individual.  I.e. how will this solution help me to achieve MY patient outcomes. It’s not just about the organisation – this part is personal.

Knowledge about how to change. Knowledge is a goal/outcome of training and coaching. A strong communication strategy is key during this stage, as well as a strong training strategy.  Just because a solution is easy to use for the technical team testing it, it doesn’t mean that it is easy to use for the end-user.  Even if they are medically trained professionals.

Ability to realise or implement the change at the required performance level. Ability is a goal/outcome of additional coaching, practice and time.  Hands-on training in a safe environment is a good enabler of ability, especially what it comes to healthcare technology.  No user wants to learn new tech on an actual patient.

Reinforcement to ensure change sticks. Reinforcement is a goal/outcome of adoption measurement, corrective actions, and recognition of successful change. A key tool during this phase is accurate reporting.  Without the ability to view reports with confidence, organisation change is a challenge to reinforce from a central point.

How to plan change management with ADKAR as the methodology

Any change management plan is, in its truest form, a gap analysis – it’s a plan on how to bridge the gap between where the stakeholders currently are and where we want them to be.  ADKAR provides a roadmap with very clear goals in place to assess whether the organisation is not just ready for the change, but ready to implement the change when the time comes.

The importance of role modeling

I have seen so many projects that are a success due to the heroic efforts of a few individuals.  It’s these individuals who have the power to gather support for their vision/goal and to create excitement and desire for change.  Subsequently, identifying a change champion in the business early on and involving them throughout will ensure that your message has credibility and authenticity. This highlights the importance of choosing the right person for the right job.  And it completely depends on the situation.  For example, “Little Miss Sunshine” – nurse might work for some, and the “grumpy doctor” that made a 360-degree turnaround, works for others.

Do as I do, not just do as I say:  the role of leadership in influencing people 

Few things inspire the desire to change as seeing your own CEO or Supervisor get in there with you and go through the same change as you.  This creates a feeling of shared pain and then shared gain at the end of the day.  Therefore building a change management plan with your stakeholders (senior or not so senior) will ensure that you know who the role models are, and to make sure that they understand the responsibility that comes with this.

The ostrich approach: Maybe if I don’t look, it’ll go away

 Failing to analyse and plan for organisational change is equivalent to planning to fail the project.  The effect of this is increased resistance to the change regardless of the effort that the project team has put in.  And when the solution finally lands (due to the heroic efforts of individuals), users will soon find workarounds and ways to go back to the old way of doing things.  As a result, it might be difficult to generate a return on investment.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, the tech-tools used in healthcare environments are typically not just tools to make the user’s life easier. These are solutions that directly or indirectly have an impact on patients’ lives and well-being. And while this is our core motivation as a healthcare solutions provider, this does mean that the selection, evaluation, and implementation of solutions usually takes a little longer than other industries.  Based on this, we have built our understanding of our customers and their users. And in essence, this enables us to support our customers through the change journey. 

Chat to us on how we can support your journey to implement tele-auscultation streaming services or AI-augmented diagnosis.

Click here to read our article on why TeleSensi should be the only tele-auscultation solution you should be considering.