Today, the healthcare industry is facing a barrage of changes. Mandates and technology updates, including ICD-10 conversion, are intimidating and can affect how an organization functions. While most believe that to some extent conforming to these new standards will “do good” in the long term, they certainly make navigating the present a difficult task.
So as a general guide we’ve compiled some useful tips that can help your organization and providers manage change. We use ICD-10 as an example here, but these ideas are helpful in dealing with any industry wide transition.
Be Ready for Change
“The only sustainable competitive advantage today is the ability to change, adapt, and evolve—and to do it better than the competition.” 1
“Change management” isn’t about minimizing fall-out and problems in times of transition; it’s about proactively leading organizations into new chapters for best outcomes. Through preparedness and concentrated programs for responding to change, healthcare organizations may not only make transitions successfully but thrive in a competitive marketplace, as well.
People’s natural reaction to change is resistance, because we generally fear the unknown. However, top-down management that cultivates an internal mindset to accept change as progress and then supports that mindset with people-focused processes will more likely get the buy-in of employees.
How can this specifically apply to the current healthcare environment?
Assess the scope. Determine how widespread the changes are, and identify all departments and employees that will be affected. From there, a workable plan can be developed. To use an example here, the scope and intricacy of the ICD-10 transition is significant. The ICD-10 transition will have a major impact throughout the healthcare industry and will be a major commission for providers, payers and channel partners and hence require prompt readiness.
- Position a senior leadership team to front the change. Studies confirm that change management works best when persons of authority show active support.
- Keep lines of communications open. Communications should not come to the forefront only in times of crisis. Healthcare organizations should function on a foundation of sound, internal communications to always be ready when change comes.
“The most common barrier to success was lack of change management. They fell short when managing the people side of change...” 2
Change is a powerful force that must be harnessed through effective administration and implementation, and a key component of the effort is the focus on the people side of change. It’s essential to keep all constituencies in mind as detailed plans are created at this point in the change process. 3
If you look at that from an ICD-10 perspective, your organization can achieve a critical strategic advantage by proper planning, fully utilizing your ICD-10 investments and moving beyond sheer compliance.
It’s essential to realize that most people’s overriding question during seasons of change is “How will this affect me?” A good plan for change will provide clear answers to this question. Likewise, true leadership of change will consistently allocate needed resources and support for success, and plans will alter responsively throughout the course.
Become the Change
“An organization that...uses effective change management...with each new initiative may experience a fundamental shift in its operations and the behavior of its employees. ...The organization has become ready and able to embrace change...” 4
When change is repeatedly administered well, healthcare organizations are able to weave these effective approaches into the fiber of their operations and truly be poised for competitive success. In essence, executives and employees “become the change” they wish to achieve in their organization.
Remember any major change requires planning, persistence and leadership but benefits for being adequately prepared are countless.
1- From “Managing Change in Healthcare”, Rashid Khalfan Al-Abri, 2007
2, 4- From “Change Management - The People Side of Change”, Hiatt & Creasey, 2003
3- From “Getting Ahead of the Change Curve”, Nancy Fagan-Coburn, 2006