A Guide to OCM in the Health Care Industry


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People are naturally averse to change – it’s human nature. As H.P. Lovecraft once said, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” That is why 70% of change initiatives fail – but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Organizational change management (OCM) is transforming the way businesses and organizations successfully implement new programs and procedures. Health care organizations are being digitally transformed from top to bottom in order to keep up with the increasing demands of more tech savvy consumers, who want more from their providers. These transformations require the employees of these organizations to work differently requiring OCM tools to enable the employees to make that transformation.

Managing organizational change in health care is not only attainable, it can be streamlined with a tried and true philosophy from Hitachi Solutions. In this blog we will outline our suggestions for successfully achieving OCM in a health care setting.

What’s Stopping Change Management in Health Care?

To successfully implement an OCM strategy, it’s best to understand what was holding you up in the past. Some of the most common reasons for unsuccessful organizational change in health care settings include:

Internal resistance: This is an obvious obstacle, but resistance within your health care organization will derail any new strategies. Initial resistance will only encourage others to be resistant, so it is vital that those leading the charge make a powerful case for the change event. People are naturally hesitant to change, but with clear benefits, you can get them on board.

Ineffective communication: If end users are left in the dark, they will not only resist change, they will be without the required training to be successful. Implementing change is doomed to fail if the end users aren’t clear on what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. There should be a regular cadence of communications regarding the new processes and systems. There should also be a proactive ongoing communications plan to disseminate information about any issues, process tweaks, follow-up training, and best practices.

Lack of leadership: If health care leadership doesn’t show their support for the change initiatives, whether it be directors of hospitals, lead surgeons, broker engagement managers, provider management, group benefit admins or chief member experience officers, it is already set up to fail. You’ll need a top-down commitment to using any new system to achieve total buy-in from its intended users. Remember, it only takes one manager using an alternative procedure (like a spreadsheet) to derail adoption of the new system.

Complex procedures: If your end users don’t have a comprehensive understanding of the new system’s programs or procedures, why would they use it? Not understanding the new system’s programs or procedures will make their jobs more difficult, resulting in less work done and more time in your health care setting. Create an onboarding process that is accessible by everyone in your organization and prioritize training to ensure adoption.

OCM Starts With ADKAR

At Hitachi Solutions, our Certified Change Practitioners utilize the Prosci ADKAR model for guiding health care organizations through successful change management. It is a simple but effective tool for understanding how people process and interpret new procedures.

ADKAR stands for the following:

Awareness:Awareness of the need for change. People tend to fear the unknown, and that is certainly true when it comes to people’s health. By telling employees why a specific change is occurring and how it will impact their patients, practices, technologies, procedures, etc., you can help alleviate that fear.

Desire:Desire to support the change. Given solid reasoning backed by research, those in health care end users are likely to want to adopt the new systems or processes. Take time to explain the benefit for their patients or their work, and you’ll improve OCM.

Knowledge:Knowledge of how to change. Those in health care tend to be motivated by data and evidence. So, sharing knowledge about “why” new systems are being implemented and “how” they work will help facilitate the process. In addition to basic training, empower your employees by showing them what to do during the transition and communicating the skills and behavior needed to support the change.

Ability:Ability to demonstrate skills and behaviors. Once end user training is complete, put employees’ newly acquired skills to the test to ensure that they fully grasp the concept and capabilities available to them. Health care workers must practice their skills for hours to prove their proficiency, so they are comfortable showcasing what they’ve learned.

Reinforcement:Reinforcement to make the change stick. Change management in health care doesn’t end with go-live. It will continue to evolve, so it’s best to establish policies, procedures, and processes to provide end users with ongoing support so they can continue to adapt to and embrace OCM.

Tips for Successful OCM in Health care

Now that you understand why change initiatives fail, and how we help organizations tackle OCM, here’s what health care organizations can do themselves to improve user adoption.

  1. Branding: Branding can be a valuable tool in driving user adoption and is one of the most underrated. This means branding the change program with a unique and memorable name, look, and style. Putting a brand on the system can give it and its processes a human identity that will help people engage. The key to organizational change in health care is finding a brand that can then provide a memorable visual to everyone about the rationale for the project and systems.
  2. Sponsorship: This relates directly to the leadership component but change management in a health care organization starts at the top. To better highlight leadership’s support, identify a sponsor of the project. The visibility and actions of the sponsor can set the whole tone for the project, which in turn will drive people to use the system. A good sponsor drives the creation of the vision for the project based on the organizational objectives and helps communicate that vision.
  3. Influencers: The next step down from a sponsor, influencers are people throughout your health care organization who can also help promote the new process or procedure. This relationship also goes both ways, as they can inform the project team leading OCM what is working and what isn’t. By incorporating the influencer’s expertise when creating the functional road map, the project team has a much higher chance of aligning the new functionality with the strategic vision and associated business needs.
  4. Communications: What and how you communicate with end users will make or break adoption. For successful organizational change in health care, everyone needs to be well-informed throughout the process. Health care settings have large numbers of people working together, so it is vital that everyone is on the same page. Communications should be planned out to deliver key messages at certain times during the project, and should include – previous issues/concerns, benefits, timetables, and setting expectations.
  5. Training: Effective training will empower your end users with the skills they need, resulting in successful adoption and support for the initiative. Health care settings have standards and protocols they are trained in and must adhere to, so be cognizant of those parameters during training. Dedicate adequate time to training and testing to ensure everyone is proficient and continue to support and follow-up on the new change. This is one area of OCM you definitely don’t want to shortchange your health care organization.

Hitachi Solutions is a leading provider of organizational change management in the health care industry. Our team of Change Practitioners are experts on driving user adoption for an array of programs and initiatives. If you have any questions or would like to inquire about Hitachi Solutions’ OCM, please feel free to contact us.