Implementing a new patient management system is a huge investment in terms of time and dollars. It can also be very stressful on all involved. Changes in the healthcare climate often contribute to an organization’s decision to implement a new system in an effort to meet current and future healthcare mandates. New systems often offer technology that is more technically advanced and robust, causing concerns among employees about their ability to learn new functions and workflows in a relatively short amount of time. These concerns often result in real and imagined barriers to staff adapting to the change. So how do you get employee buy-in during a system implementation?
Foster Employee Involvement
In any organization, change is better received when not strictly mandated downward. It is important to create an environment that allows employees to feel that they are a part of the decision making process. The transition to a new system can be successful when opportunities are developed for active engagement among the management and staff. Several steps should be taken to encourage participation and keep employees engaged during this time of significant change, while still keeping the timeline and projected costs in check. We recommend the following:
- Create a workgroup to categorize, review and understand current state policies and procedures.
- Create a repository for the existing policies and procedures. Review these policies often throughout the system development and implementation phases. The goal should be to identify gaps and opportunities between current state and future state.
- Be ready to share. Hold monthly “town hall” meetings during the build phase to provide staff with glimpses of the new system and provide information about next steps, answer questions and concerns.
- Develop training that is role-based and centered on policy and procedure workflows. It is not uncommon for end users to be highly stressed at the thought of learning and adapting to a new system. Providing training specified on workflows creates a real world environment, allowing users to practice scenarios that are relevant to their job role and improving their comfort level.
Cultivate System Champions
In order to be successful, it is imperative that there is involvement from different employee groups that utilize the system, both non-clinical and clinical. Often, organizations approach a project of this magnitude with a rigid project management stance in order to keep the project timeline and budget intact. Not enough time is spent on gathering “buy in” and system acceptance to reduce the anxiety of the staff that is most impacted. I Involving staff early and often can pay huge dividends in terms of buy-in, satisfaction and timeline. We recommend the following strategies:
- Map current workflows from start to finish with the aid of designated staff who utilize the functionality
- Ask staff to list opportunities for improvement and identify workflows that are currently working well.
- Review workflows for redundancy and encourage new ways of looking at an old issue or process. There are always different ways to obtain the same result. Avoid the all too common idea of, “we’ve always done it this way.”
- Create access to the new system that is based on user role, testing and training by role. This way, people can learn in an environment that mirrors production. This will greatly decrease potential end user frustration.
- Choose staff from each modality that can act as “super users” who are willing and ready to:
- Disseminate positive information to his/her department
- Bring questions and concerns back to implementation team
- Help develop/update policies and procedures based on new system workflows and best practices
- Help users understand the new system functionality by utilizing the approved workflows defined at the beginning of the project
Involving staff is important, not only to gain insight into job functions and activities but also to create system champions excited for change.
Participation, Not Delegation
System implementations can be both exciting and exasperating at the same time. Involving staff in a strategic way will improve the overall end result. Allowing staff to have input will ensure that all end user needs have been identified, reviewed, streamlined and implemented if appropriate. Staff buy-in will be heightened if employees feel they are involved. Allow for input, understand current processes, and track employee feedback regarding both current pain points and needs when developing a system implementation strategy.
This article was originally published in Hayes’ Healthcare Blog and is republished here with permission.