Practical Change Management Strategies for Healthcare Practices
There is the theory of change management and then there is the practice of change management in. Of course the theory of change management needs to be studied and as much as possible needs to be incorporated into your overall strategy. But sometimes, you know change needs to happen…..to cut costs, to improve efficiency, to leverage technology and all you get is push back.
Having participated in change management for many years, here are a couple of practical thoughts:
- Sometimes, you just have to do it. I am reminded of a Radiology practice that I had the pleasure of working with as practice manager. 12 Rads, 3 interventionalists……a really good reputation regionally working at a 500 bed designated trauma center. And they were not making enough money. The problem was billing over-head, 3 billing clerks with a supervisor. I was tasked with reducing this over-head. So I sat down with billing staff and asked for suggestions…….everything they did was absolutely essential in their eyes. They worked in an office crowded with filing cabinets and paper on desks filling the room. One weekend, I went into the office….emptied all the filing cabinets and had maintenance take to secure trash for shredding. I cleaned the desks off. I moved two of the billers to a centralized billing office, one person retired and the other quit. The result? Instant cost reduction….and more cash for Rads. And guess what? I cannot think of one time that we said…”oh, I guess I should have kept that piece of paper”.
- When leveraging technology….everyone gets hinky. We all know now that leveraging technology eventually reduces cost, improves efficiency and gets to the root of some problems that couldn’t be even seen. A forest and trees situation. Most employees are afraid of change because they believe it will affect their job. And most of the time …….it does. But leveraging technology can also mean that smarter more creative employees who have played on their laptops at home and browsed the internet have learned short cuts and ways of getting to where they want to be that believe it or not can be used in the business office. These are the folks you want to keep and listen to. They will embrace the technology, and you will gain from their experience.
- When all else fails, punt. As we enter the football playoffs leading to the super bowl…..we can see this played out in game after game. If you can’t make 7 points…..try for 3. This same principle applies to change management. There are times when you need to take smaller steps, slow down the pace and get little wins for people to understand the benefits of change. Don’t buck the need to do that…….by running for 7 points at 4th and 20……you are taking a big risk. By punting….you get the 3 points.
Be practical…….there is not a one solution fits all in change management. Assess your team……understand their strengths and weaknesses…..define your mission…….it will bring you success and your team new enthusiasm for the real tasks ahead.