Organizational change remains the most difficult part of managing business. The reasons for change can be government mandate, greater efficiency, avoiding risks or losses, or capturing a new market. Regardless of the reason, change is very hard. Enormous and small companies alike fail in the face of change. History is littered with the skeletons of Kodak, Xerox and many others.
Healthcare is a great example of an industry attempting to move quickly from antiquated processes and systems to modern techniques and tools. It is a fantastic, current case study of the good, bad and ugly sides of overcoming the hurdles inherent in change. We will see in five years what took decades in other markets. Healthcare is taking a crash course in every discipline that surrounds change management.
There are healthcare organizations fighting the change and others embracing the inevitable. For those embracing, the only solution is to face the challenge with a realistic view of what must be overcome:
- A move from paper records to electronic
- Change from simple codes based on payments to complex codes based on a host of factors, like how an injury occurred
- Application of quality metrics to ‘living’ process
- Demonstration of quantifiable improvements over time
Standing in the way of change are five tall hurdles, evenly spaced apart in a recent article on the PEX Network. I recommend you read this piece, but I’ve summarized it here:
Stakeholders don’t collaborate – The true stakeholders of process include Business, IT, Training and Compliance. Getting a broad group onboard with any improvement requires an easy way to bring and keep everyone in the discussion and change.
Prioritization is challenging – Missing, wrong or fuzzy KPI’s make it tough to identify the greatest pain or where the most change can be made quickly. Getting started is often harder than being underway.
Tooling is missing - Simple but effective automation of idea capture, analysis and communication is the single best way to clear this hurdle.
Change management is complicated – Creating a race car from a bicycle while driving down the road requires careful management of improvements. The business needs to keep the lights on and invoices moving throughout.
People resist change – There are two halves to change for your front-line people. Bring them in early and they’ll be invested in the change, but there also needs to be a way to make sure they’re sticking to the plan once change start to happen.
Every one of these five is necessary for a a culture of continuous improvement.
One of the most famous hurdlers in history, Renaldo “Skeets” Nehemiah, who broke the world 110 m record three times, said it best, “The art form is to become one with the hurdle, to make it your friend, and I embraced that process.”
Words of an athlete, but he could have been a businessman. He recognized that hurdles are cleared not by heroics or good fortune, but by a great technique executed well.