Everything in healthcare is changing. Designing and implementing planned change in order to grow and adapt to new technologies, standards, revenue streams, market forces and challenges has become an imperative for both businesses and healthcare organizations who want to survive and thrive.
These efforts are best done proactively and holistically, evaluating opportunities from one end of the organization to the other with strong, consistent leadership and a clear vision of the future. However, fast-changing environments, crisis situations, and isolated projects often result in decentralized efforts focused on point solutions that only address one particular area at a time. Tactical or operational changes are made when in reality a broader change in strategy is what is really required.
What is often also overlooked is that organizational change should involve the beliefs, attitudes, values, and culture as well as the people, processes, and structure of organizations. What happens to the culture as a result of change must be carefully and systematically planned through an approach which enables the organization to implement improvements in a consistent, sustainable way. In fast changing environments, sometimes little to no thought is given to the effects that change will have on the people throughout the organization. Significant transformation is often undertaken without consideration to the cultural shifts that must accompany it in order for the effort to succeed.
We believe everything in business starts with people. So, an effective business strategy must focus its effort keenly on human resources, and reach back all the way to the source of what drives people to choose their employer and perform productively and effectively. It must also consider the impact of change on all areas of the organization and the management of stakeholder value, profit, operations, and organizational development.
Healthcare is in the middle of a patient-centered revolution driven by both recession and reform. It is becoming increasingly consumer-oriented and quality-driven as the structure shifts from fee for service to pay for performance. As a result, efficiency, performance measures and quality improvement are at the heart of most changes efforts. However, performance doesn’t start with patients. It starts with employees – the providers of care that interact with patients and develop relationships with them over the short course of acute care as well as a lifetime of health, wellness and chronic care. It is there, where the rubber meets the road, that change can have a sustainable transforming effect.
This transformation to an employee-centered paradigm is a difficult shift, particularly in healthcare. But as more is learned about the significant impact engaged, enabled and empowered nurses, physicians, technicians, and medical assistants can have on patient outcomes and satisfaction, the more important the transformation becomes. Managing the course of change, and its impact on the people that must be deliver it, must be identified and nurtured as a key component for success.
Maureen Donnellan is Director of Consulting for Pathfinder|MPI Management Consulting, Cincinnati USA. She has 25 years of experience in organizational leadership and development. For more information, contact her at 513.721.6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Pathfinder|MPI Management Consulting 2013.