Within healthcare today, change is occurring at a record pace, perhaps more so than at any time in history, as a result of healthcare reform. So it is imperative that organizations implement a structured approach to manage these changes and positively involve the individuals that will feel the effects of change before, during and after it occurs. It is important that organizations have a deliberate strategy for managing change.

Change management isn’t a new concept. It involves well-thought-out planning and implementation, and most importantly, the participation of your stakeholders—especially employees and others most affected by the changes being implemented.

The need for change must be clearly communicated, measured, celebrated and rewarded. Your varied stakeholders will want to know how change will affect them; therefore, communication must be tailored to meet their specific needs. And it will be just as important to finds ways of communicating that will pull everyone together so they’ll feel a sense of unity in the journey together.

In 1995, Harvard Business School professor John Kotter introduced an eight-step change process that provides a blueprint for success:

Today, nowhere is change occurring so dramatically as in healthcare. Healthcare reform is transforming the business of healthcare and affecting how we deliver services. Putting change management principles to work will be critical as healthcare organizations are challenged to find more efficient ways to provide high-quality patient care.

Value-driven care and “bundled” services are topics with growing interest among payers, providers, and state and federal governments, as well as consumers. There is growing interest in patient education and prevention among some states in an effort to bend the cost curve.

Using electronic medical records (EMR) is one way that hospitals will become more efficient and improve quality. Change management is vital to the implementation of EMR, which, for most providers, is a huge undertaking. It is leadership’s responsibility, through the utilization of change management, to educate, involve and motivate employees through these changes in healthcare.

Employees will experience a range of emotions during the change process. Some may feel a sense of grief, others may feel somewhat ambiguous, and still others exhilarated. Understanding these feelings, offering support when needed, and communicating and celebrating along the way will help build a stronger and more committed workforce.

Another area in which significant change is taking place within healthcare is the move to provide a patient-centered approach to care. Patient-centered care is about creating patient care processes from the patient’s point of view. The entire patient experience—from appointment and wait times to the physical layout of the hospital or office to the need for privacy and how patient information is collected, stored and shared—every aspect of the patient experience will be designed from the patient’s point of view. Patient-centered care addresses patients’ concerns and provides communication and the means to ease those concerns, share treatment options with patients and discover their understanding of their illnesses.

Moving to a patient-centered care model will not just involve the training of all staff, it will involve a cultural transformation for many providers. At Proctor, we share the Planetree philosophy that safe, accessible, high-quality care is fundamental to patient-centered care. It is a philosophy that encourages healing partnerships with caregivers and is in harmony with our mission—to provide unmatched healthcare experiences…every day.

A knowledgeable and engaged workforce will be necessary to achieve these goals. Change management will become an important part of our culture because our patients deserve the very best. iBi