Broad implementation of digital healthcare technology is a time-consuming process in which systematic work must be done top-down as well as bottom-up – from department managers to operations managers and onwards to every member of the staff. In this article, we share some tips on what you may need to think about to succeed with the process further down your organisation.
Digital transformation takes time and requires behavioural change
Prepare yourself that the process of introducing new technology in a large healthcare organisation takes time. It barely depends on the technology per se – altering behaviour is in itself a lengthy process that may take from a few months to a year. Be mindful that it involves, above all, people and people need time to get used to a new way of working, so by definition, the process cannot be finalised in a matter of a few days. Furthermore, people are different and so are their learning curves.
Below you will get insights into what is required of your role as a manager to get your entire organisation on board.
Technology fatigue – a big challenge
“Oh no. Not yet another technical solution I have to learn! When will I have time to get into this?”. This is a common feeling among staff at all levels who already have too much on their plates. In addition to feeling like there’s too little time, there are also several fears and preconceptions about digital healthcare. Recent mentions in the media about online doctors may have not exactly contributed to a positive image of digital healthcare and a lot of people may have a hard time picturing how new tech solutions can benefit them or the patients in their everyday lives.
In order to lay the groundwork for a welcoming attitude towards change, it’s important to make sure that everyone understands why the change needs to happen and what are the goals that the organisation should collectively achieve. The more transparent you can be throughout the change process, the better the outcome will be. In the beginning, focus on the positive but also be clear about the challenges ahead. When it comes to digital transformation in healthcare, for example, you have a lot to gain from talking about the upcoming improvements in patients’ lives as well as the opportunities digital healthcare presents for staff, such as a better work environment with more flexibility.
Doing something new means doing less of something old
For the organisation to cope with the change, dare to consider which old processes and habits you should be doing less of. At the same time, it’s critical to be receptive and attentive to the fact that new ways of working can be initially perceived as burdensome rather than enjoyable. Nevertheless, management should convey confidence that the new working methods will result in a positive change for staff and patients alike.
Some people in the organisation may be openly negative, particularly if they’re not as confident in their digital competence to embrace the digital way of working. In this case, it is important to ensure that staff have enough time for training and testing the system; but above all, to understand that it’s the tool in itself is only a component of what this process is really about: Change management, business development, and behavioural change. Technology is merely an enabler that creates the conditions for new ways of working and providing care.
Do reflect on the following questions:
- How can this technology help us deliver better care?
- If we put the patients’ best interest is in focus, what do they really want?
In healthcare, giving too much control to the patient is a common concern, but in reality, there is nothing to give away – the patient is in control from the beginning. When you have landed together in the benefits and the value this change can add, it will limit the resistance to new technology.
Get Operations managers on board
Business and Operations managers need to understand that digital transformation is about business development and not the technology itself. Only after this concept has landed, can you discuss the essentials: how your business can meet the challenges that will arise going forward. It’s also important to accept that not everyone will agree at all times. The people who are most willing to get something done should be given the mandate to move forward, instead of adapting to those who are reluctant. In the same way that healthcare staff must be given time and resources, the same should be provided to the business managers.
Remember – some kind of concern will always be present. One tip is to study other healthcare providers who have been through the journey you are embarking on. In healthcare, we sometimes tend to reinvent the wheel. Instead, try to not only look at what others have done from a distance, but invite them in and learn from them. Ask them how they went about in their organisation, what challenges they encountered along the way, and how they succeeded, and don’t hesitate to discuss your own challenges.
Find ambassadors within your organisation
A key factor in successful broad implementation of digital healthcare is to create local ambassadors in your workforce. Find people who think digital healthcare is fun, are engaged and driven to take it further. Let’s take a clinic with 15 employees as an example. Out of the entire staff, there may be only three people who think the change is positive and exciting. Work with their enthusiasm! You don’t have to spend time convincing the other twelve people who are sceptical or reluctant. Start with the ones who are inspired by the process and let them become your local ambassadors. Don’t forget to set them up for success and highlight their victories!
Even people who usually have a hard time with new technology tend to be convinced by focusing on the patients and the value it creates for them. We have seen several examples where staff that previously had no interest in technology have become inspirational for other departments. It’s about daring to try, daring to fail, and allowing yourself to spend the time needed to learn.
In the end, it is usually those who put off getting started who end up feeling the most dissatisfied with the situation. They look at those who have already started and wonder why they didn’t ignite the process earlier themselves. So, take the first step – It really is the most important one.