Change management in healthcare is not merely an option, but an imperative, especially when it comes to deploying new technology. In the dynamic and ever-evolving healthcare landscape, the integration of technological advancements is paramount to enhance patient care, streamline administrative processes, and improve overall efficiency. However, these benefits can only be realised through effective change management practices.

Why change management in healthcare?

The healthcare industry faces unique challenges when it comes to implementing change. Clinical and administrative staff often view their roles as vocations, deeply rooted in a sense of purpose and responsibility towards patients. In some cases, simply deploying new technology and then expecting seamless adaptation is ineffective and will be seen as enforcing change on the workforce.[1] Instead, if we want to alter the working patterns and behaviours of healthcare professionals, we must help them fully understand the reasons behind changes, and how these new processes will lead to tangible improvements, whether it’s through increased efficiencies, better communication, or safer working conditions.

The significance of change management in healthcare technology adoption

Change management in healthcare technology adoption should not rely on an ad-hoc approach; it requires a structured and systematic framework to transition individuals, teams, and organisations from their current state to the desired future state.[2] This structured approach aims to minimise resistance, maximise adoption, and ensure successful outcomes. While there are various documented change management methodologies, such as PROSCI, Kotter’s 8-step process, and the Influencer Model, the fundamental principles remain the same.

To ensure successful technology adoption in healthcare, several key approaches must be considered:

Set a clear vision: a well-defined purpose and goals for technology adoption must be established. Within the vision, an unambiguous problem statement needs to be addressed, along with expected benefits. This should be communicated to all stakeholders, emphasising how they align with the organisation’s strategic objectives and the delivery of high-quality patient care. This shared sense of purpose fosters engagement among healthcare professionals.

Gain leadership support: active and visible support from leadership is indispensable for successful change management. Leaders must champion technology adoption, communicate its importance effectively, and allocate the necessary resources. Their involvement builds trust, encourages buy-in from staff, and provides guidance throughout the entire process.

Assess readiness for change: a thorough assessment is essential to gauge the organisation’s preparedness for change. Identifying key stakeholders affected by the technology adoptionsuch as clinicians, administrators, IT staff, and patients—is crucial. Engaging these stakeholders early on to gather their perspectives, address concerns, and include them in decision-making is vital.

Develop a comprehensive communication plan: effective communication plays a pivotal role in creating awareness, generating support, and managing expectations. A well-crafted communication plan, tailored to different stakeholder groups, must be implemented. It’s important to use various channels, such as meetings, newsletters, intranets, and social media, to disseminate information and provide updates throughout the change process.

Deliver training: successful technology adoption often necessitates the acquisition of new skills and competencies. Therefore, a robust training program should be developed that equips healthcare professionals with the necessary knowledge and skills to use the technology effectively. Ongoing support through user guides, help desks, and peer-to-peer mentoring is crucial, as is encouraging continuous learning and providing opportunities for staff to share best practices and success stories.

Nurture collaboration: promoting collaboration and teamwork among different departments and stakeholders is essential. Breaking down silos and fostering cross-functional, multidisciplinary collaboration facilitates a seamless transition. Establish forums for staff to share experiences, lessons learned, and innovations related to technology adoption, and recognise and celebrate achievements to maintain motivation and momentum.

Manage progress: regularly monitor the progress of technology adoption and evaluate its impact. Collect feedback from stakeholders and be prepared to make the necessary adjustments accordingly. Additionally, be sure to address barriers or challenges proactively and provide ongoing support to ensure sustained adoption and continuous improvement.

It is important to understand that deploying new technology into healthcare settings is complex, dynamic, and not without its challenges.[3] However, with effective change management practices, the likelihood of successful technology adoption significantly increases. The process does not end with the installation of a new system; instead, ongoing training and support are critical to ensuring a seamless transition and continued adoption by staff members.

To find out how Connected Health can support your staff during digital transformation, contact us.