10 tips on how to succeed with large-scale implementation of digital healthcare
What do you need to successfully scale up new technology?
Do you work in a large healthcare organisation that has tested a new digital tool in pilot projects for one reception? That’s a great initiative – starting on a small scale to test new tools and ways of working is the best way to get started with digital transformation.
However, the final destination for larger healthcare organisations is rarely a successful implementation in one reception, but most likely a broad implementation on several – or all of the receptions. It is at this moment that the real change management process begins.
This guide is written for anyone looking for tips and advice on how to succeed with broad implementation of digital transformation in healthcare. In this guide, you will read about:
- What to think about before you get started
- Purchasing/procurement tips
- Common challenges along the way
- The importance of measurable goals
- How to get the organisation on board
Enjoy the read!
What do you need for a successful broad implementation?
Before we dive into what is needed to succeed with the broad implementation of new digital tools in a larger healthcare organisation, it’s important to keep in mind that digital transformation and new technology are not the end-goal but the enabler! Therefore, it is important to first identify what problems you want to solve and what you want to achieve with broad implementation. What processes do you want to improve or streamline with the new tools? Which operations will be affected by the change? Moving on, here are some additional important points to consider.
Avoiding “pilot death”
Before a major healthcare organisation begins a broad implementation of new technology, the technology has often been tested in a pilot in one or a few operations within the organisation. The project starts often with the output. The pilot results may have shown positive results and now you want to take the next step. Even if you have secured a budget for the pilot, you may not have secured the resources required to take the next step. This means that the project often starts in procurement – for public healthcare providers this often means a contract.
The advantage of running a pilot or an isolated project in parts of the business is that, hopefully, you get some clarity in what challenges you want to solve and what kind of technical solution can help your organisation succeed. It’s often at this point that the broad implementation plan takes an abrupt halt. There are several reasons for this, but a common one is to disregard taking into account broad implementation at the beginning of the pilot. To avoid the so-called “Pilot death”, it’s important to start thinking about the next step as soon as you start testing new ways of working with the help of a new digital tool.
What to think about before purchasing and/or procurement
To succeed with large-scale implementation of new technology, it is crucial that the future users of the system get a positive experience from day one. There will be plenty of other challenges and you don’t want to end up in a position where the technology itself becomes the make-it-or-break-it factor. You have probably gathered some insights after the pilot project that can be useful now that several operations are getting on board. Therefore, carefully evaluate how healthcare staff and patients have experienced the system used in the pilots, but also examine how in-line the pilot results are with the broad implementation goals. Based on these insights, you can create a list of requirements that can be used during purchasing/procurement. These exact requirements can form the basis for a purchasing/procurement list.
Don’t forget – the most important success factor in broad implementation is not the technology itself, but change management and a willingness to embrace change. Therefore, it’s of utmost importance to analyse and understand what broad implementation means for different parts of your organisation. This is a point that needs to be taken into account as early as the purchasing process, so that you don’t find yourself in a situation later where you don’t have enough agency to enable the transition. Finally, since change management is critical for success, it’s central that the supplier supporting you with broad implementation has the necessary skills and experience to pull through. Don’t be reluctant to place the right demands from the very beginning.
Leadership, mandate, and resources
To succeed with digital transformation where most of the organisation is affected, you need to secure the right mandate and resources from day one. Healthcare organisations manage to save resources with digital transformation, but in the beginning, it will require extra work and additional costs. But with the right goals, patience, and perseverance, you will manage to bring these investments home over time.
Choosing the right people to lead the change and giving them the tools they need to succeed is equally important. Not everything can be foreseen from the start. The leaders should be allowed to work in an agile way throughout the process and they should also be allowed to fail. It may feel intimidating to not have full transparency and control, but if you have set clear goals that you constantly tune into, an iterative approach is always preferable. It’s more important to get started than doing everything perfectly and according to plan from the beginning.
Involve the top-line managers
A critical group of stakeholders that should not be forgotten in broad implementation is the top-line managers! To achieve a change at an operational level, top-level managers are first-priority stakeholders in understanding why the change must be done and receiving the tools they need to succeed, to achieve a change at a business level. They also need to clearly understand the expected benefits of the transformation, especially in the long run. It is important here to highlight the value this change can create for the business, the staff, the patients, and finally the managers themselves.
Uplift internal heroes
To get the businesses up and running and test the new, digitally-enabled ways of working, it is crucial to identify people within each operation who can support the implementation. These are often people who are prone to change and curious about new technology, but they can also be people who you know are strong internal voices. By helping them realise the value of digital transformation, you can facilitate and accelerate broad implementation. Proceed to create a forum where business ambassadors can meet, regardless of silos, to inspire and support each other.
Train, train, and train again – and then again
When introducing a new system or working methods, users are often offered a one-time training. Nevertheless, change requires friction with the new habits and tools and changing behaviours can take up to 300 days. Therefore, set up a plan for how to train the staff and especially the first-line managers so that they feel completely safe and comfortable with the new ways of working and can handle the system and any questions that may arise. Take into account that the same people may need to be trained on several occasions; follow up and make sure that the new tools are actually used in alignment with your goals.
How to succeed with internal marketing
Most organisations face challenges with internal communication and in a large organisation, these challenges are often even greater. At the same time, it is incredibly important to continually inform the entire organisation about the success of the project in order to get more receptions eager to get started. Make sure that you have allocated resources and budget to highlight the good examples – businesses that dared to jump on the train early and who can now share their experiences. Let the businesses themselves tell you about the value they see in the new technology and working methods, both for the staff and the patients. This not only creates pride in the individual operations but can inspire others to dare and take the step, when they see that it doesn’t have to be so difficult. If possible, also involve patients and check whether they are willing to share their experiences. If patients can confirm that the change has made contact with their healthcare provider less burdensome, it’s valuable evidence for the value created throughout the chain.
Highlight your success stories
As with individuals, some businesses are more or less likely to adopt new technology and new ways of working.
To keep up with the pace of the rollout and to quickly highlight the good examples, it is a good initial idea to focus on the businesses that have expressed interest early on and ensure that they get started. Make sure you have enough resources and the mandate to support these businesses to succeed, celebrate the success, build internal pride and foster commitment and motivation in your employees. Avoid setting too rigid requirements in the beginning, but let the businesses test themselves and see how they can use the technology to create the utmost value. Are some employees feeling uncertain? Let them test the system in closed environments with their own colleagues. By test-driving a few times in a safe environment, users become less concerned.
The importance of a clear goal
After you build your internal success stories, the next step is to bring all the businesses on board. Avoid double messages and be clear about the expectations. Uncertainty arises when there are several possible routes that can hinder broad implementation. For example, if you have decided to use a specific system for specific tasks, make sure that the decision applies. Then different businesses may need more or less time with the transition. Encourage those who dare to take the step forward and inspire those who are waiting, for example, by inviting potential ambassadors to visit the businesses that are getting started.
Follow up and evaluate – but above all, DARE!
It is difficult, or even impossible, to succeed with a broad implementation if you haven’t taken the first steps and started using the tools available. Therefore, both goals and follow-ups are required. Because, if everyone is to understand the value of the tool, it needs to be used! The reception goals should be rooted and aligned with the goals of the entire organisation.
An example: A large healthcare organisation has set a goal that 30% of all patient meetings should be digital within 2 years. Depending on the mission and activities of each business, they will need to review their business goals to steer towards the overall goal. Which meetings can be done digitally in this particular business? Here it is important to allow the businesses to think outside the box. Maybe it’s not the first patient meeting that takes place digitally, but rather the follow-up meeting? Maybe it’s just the opposite: you start with a digital meeting to match your needs and meet physically seen in the next step. New technology creates new opportunities that should be explored and evaluated.
Therefore, a broad implementation requires courageous leadership, a clear strategy, challenging goals, and a positive attitude on the necessity of business development.