Viable contributors to our healthcare system consistently demonstrate the ability to implement effective changes. Being flexible and able to adapt quickly to patient, provider, and payer developments in your market is critical to your ASC’s success.
Typically, change is not comfortable for most of the workforce including leaders. That’s where having a plan comes in handy.
Here are some key plan components that will help you effectively engage your team and adhere to a path for successful implementation of change.
Communication concerning the change is vital – but it cannot just be communication from the top down. Communication must occur between leadership and staff, not from leadership to staff. Make sure input is solicited from everyone involved in making the change as well as those persons affected by the change.
Convey the reason(s) for making the change. If your team members understand why the change is necessary, they are more likely to buy into the change and actively participate in the process.
Lay out a timeline for the change process. Although the timeline may need to be adjusted throughout the process, providing a general outline of the plan provides your ASC team an opportunity to envision the path ahead. They can prepare for what is going to happen and when, and contribute to the end result.
Training may be a crucial component of your plan. Many changes in ASCs today encompass new technologies – implementing electronic health records and patient portals, upgrading phone systems, or adding new surgical/clinical procedures, for example.
To ensure staff become comfortable using, and maximizing the benefits of, new technologies, extensive hands-on training may be necessary. While it may be tempting to provide this education in the fastest and least expensive way possible, doing so may end up costing more in the long run.
One of our ASCs recently went through a software system transition. The vendor offered off-site training for super-users. We invested the time and money to send three members of the ASC’s team to receive that upfront training. Upon their return to the ASC, these super-users were extremely valuable in educating and supporting their fellow staff members and physicians during the onsite training process. The team required less intensive training from the vendor, which ultimately saved time and money and promoted a smooth “go live” environment.
It is important to note that people learn at different paces. When training team members, make sure individual needs are addressed. More training may be required for some, while less training is necessary for others.
It is not likely everyone will be on the same page the moment you start moving forward with implementing a change. Some members of your team may embrace the change from the beginning and easily move through the process. Others may exhibit various levels of resistance.
Team members who are hesitant or actively pushing back against a change will require additional attention. Engage them in conversations to learn about their reservations. Answer questions about why the change is necessary. Provide emotional support. You may not be able to eliminate all their concerns but taking the time to listen and actively support them throughout the process will elicit more positive engagement.
Individuals providing support and engaging in these conversations do not necessarily need to be formal leaders. In fact, peers who have bought into the change may better understand a fellow team member’s struggle and more effectively facilitate their colleague’s buy-in.
For a plan to be successful, leadership must be 100% on board throughout the change process. They are the change champions. This is true even if leaders are uncertain about the change or the approved approach to making the change.
In times of uncertainty, leadership must come to terms with the situation, put feelings of doubt aside, and figure out a way to stay positive. This can be difficult, but the emotions leadership project — whether intentional or not — are inevitably picked up by staff.
An effective plan for change should take the ASC through completion of the process. Ensure the plan spells out how you will monitor if the change achieves its intended short and long-term goals.
If the change does not deliver the benefits you were hoping for, additional improvements and other changes may be required.
It is also important to evaluate if the change has any unintended effects on your facility’s operations. For example, changes can affect customer service and the organization’s culture. Sometimes these changes are positive. However, if a big change affects these or any other processes negatively, you will want to go back to the drawing board and work to right the ship.
Catherine Sayers – Director of Operations