Season of Change
Fall is a season of change; changing leaves, changing temperatures, and lately the change of all regular-flavored food/drinks to some variation of pumpkin! As we enjoy the beautiful foliage or our first pumpkin-spice latte, we should think about the importance of another type of change: change management.
The healthcare industry is constantly undergoing significant change due to shifts in reimbursements and compliance requirements. In addition, the shortage of skilled workers and low unemployment rates are driving personnel costs higher. What are hospital leaders doing to prepare and/or absorb the related costs? If strategies are not in place to successfully manage these changes, the bottom line, employee satisfaction, job security, and continued sustainability suffer.
What does an effective change management plan look like? It can be described in a few quick steps!
Step 1: Identify the why. This seems pretty easy, but it is still critical to outline the need for improvement and cost reduction strategies and, above all, communicate them to the entire organization! There should not be any guess-work surrounding what is driving the direction being taken.
Step 2: Assess current state. Take a good hard look at current volumes, staffing, and overall operations to uncover opportunities for improvement. “Sunset” old, antiquated processes to streamline services and automate systems where possible to reduce re-work. Review your skill mix and staffing and adjust schedule appropriately based on your actual volume.
Step 3: Set realistic goals. Create volume-based staffing goals to properly align resources with patient demand. Be sure to look at every functional department and not just certain pockets within the organization. Tie these targets to the budget process and position control system so that there is cohesion and any FTE creep can be prevented.
Step 4: Track your performance. You might think that making the changes is enough, but without a way to quantify the progress made by the actions being taken, how will you know if your change management plan has been successful? Routinely monitor all areas against the established goals to ensure that the positive performance updates achieved are maintained!
Step 5: Designate change management champions. Any effective improvement plan has strong leaders at the helm. Make sure they are visible and accessible to staff as well as actively involved in the entire process. Meaningful changes requires a “group effort!” Clearly communicate your goals to all levels of the organization, and embrace a team mentality as you strive towards the targets. Change requires motivation, skills and knowledge. Your change management champions can carry the torch and build the community.
So, take a tip from Mother Nature (or your local Starbucks) and jump on the change-trend this Fall! The renewal that comes with Spring will be waiting.
Do you need help with your change management? Contact ALTIUS today and get on the right path!