Managing Change and Maintaining Your Competitive Advantage
Solid internal change management processes are critical in maintaining your Competitive Advantage in the market. After all, it is your internal employees that deliver your services and have face time with your referral sources and patients. Employee dissatisfaction due to a poorly executed EMR implementation can have a direct impact on your competitive advantage due to staff turn-over and resulting service failures.
As I outlined in part 2 of this implementation series, “building the value proposition from top leadership down to the individual employee is key in achieving total stakeholder buy in across your organization and achieving implementation success.” This cannot be accomplished without considering the importance of “change management”.
Your Structured Implementation team plays a primary role in change management during your selection, implementation and overall adoption of the new EMR platform. In part 3 of my software implementation series we address a simple change management model and the responsibilities of your structured team in addressing change successfully.
Lewin’s Change Management Model
This change management model was created in the 1950’s by psychologist Kurt Lewin. He recognized three stages of change and outlines the psychological component to each. Over the years I’ve found these three phases the easiest to logically understand, teach and follow when working with homecare and hospice organizations adopting a new EMR system.
- Unfreeze – Employees make an active effort to resist change and remain in their current zone of safety which I like to think of as “frozen in the past”. Overcoming this tendency, requires a period of thawing or unfreezing initiated through motivation.
In Lewis’s model, impactful motivation requires a “Force field analysis”. It is the framework for problem solving and planned change. The key to a successful force field analysis is understanding a restraining force cannot be simply removed and can only be countered by increasing the driving forces (i.e. motivation) for the change.
Simplest example: A field clinician does not believe that a new point of care platform is better than the existing platform used. You cannot remove this belief or restraining force, but you can fuel the driving force by explaining why the new platform is more effective and by organizing training in how to use it.
- Transition – Once change is initiated, the employees move into a transition period, which may last for some time. I call this the phase of understanding and buy-in to the change. When the force field analysis is completed, the implementation team (aka change agents) must develop on-going strategies to reduce restraining forces while strengthening driving forces that outline why the change is of value to the employees.
Adequate leadership and reassurance is necessary for the “Transition” phase to be successful and without it staff will re-build on restraining forces making it harder for your organization to drive change.
- Refreeze – After change has been accepted and successfully implemented, the organization becomes stable again and employees refreeze perceptions as they operate under the new guidelines and EMR system recently put into place. This means that the driving forces for the change outweighed the restraining forces leading to your EMR system being embraced allowing new habits and daily routines to be formed.
Implementation Team Structure and Their Role as Change Agents
In part 2 of this series, I explained how leaders of successful healthcare organizations embrace the concept of team structure and outlined the implementation team structure that has worked in many new EMR system adoptions. Today, in part 3, we will review the defined roles within this team structure and their responsibility as change agents in delivering a successful implementation.
Executive Sponsor Leadership Style and Role
- Strengthens the driving forces why the change needs to take place
- Embraces both an autocratic and democratic leadership style to foster both urgency and organizational engagement
Project management provides the framework for implementing change
- Coordinates the teams and the tasks that need to occur while conducting the force field analysis
- Collaborates with the Implementation team in understanding restraining forces while countering with legit driving forces to deliver successful change.
Subject Matter Experts are cheerleaders for the change
- Communicate issues from the employee base (restraining forces) to both Project Management and the Executive Sponsor while assisting to carry the value message for the change (driving forces) into your employee base.
Using a framework for planned change proactively rather than retrospectively can help offset potential problems. Seeking objectivity from an outside source as a “Change Agent” is very valuable in guiding this whole process. An outsider view on what is going well, what is going wrong and potential risks to watch out for as the project progresses can help uncover areas both the vendor and your team may miss.