5 steps for healthcare change management: Best practices for adop

August 18, 2021

Widespread organizational change is never easy, but healthcare has historically struggled with change, garnering a reputation as a slow adopter of technology in an era of digital transformation. The concept of “change management” has spurred countless books, philosophies, and consulting agreements, yet the topic can still be difficult, especially for healthcare organizations trying to chart the course for the future.

Healthcare systems face unique challenges – first, their core business has two, sometimes opposing, goals: to provide excellent patient care and to be profitable. Any effort to cut costs or improve margins must also enhance, or at the very least not detract from, patient care. Second, healthcare organizations have a very complex structure. With a variety of facilities, a hierarchy of staff with independent contractors and employees, numerous acquisitions and legacy systems, multiple contracts and payers, it can be difficult to create alignment. On top of all of this, add in the common questions like “will a robot take my job?” and it’s a wonder that any new technology initiatives survive in a hospital environment.

Healthcare is facing a clear call for change & the time to adapt is now

Intelligent automation is part of the solution for healthcare – RPA, machine learning, and AI can all improve efficiency, reduce waste, and reduce errors. In fact, 62% of senior healthcare execs report having implemented an AI strategy1. At the same time, it is also estimated that half of RPA initiatives – the most basic of AI skills – fail2. How can we change that number so healthcare can take advantage of all the benefits artificial intelligence has to offer?

For healthcare + automation to succeed, technology companies and hospitals need to rethink their implementation processes. They need a comprehensive change management strategy that addresses the unique challenges of healthcare organizations and the challenges of intelligent automation. Successful implementation of a change management strategy will enable hospitals to move into the future of care.

Here are some best practices to integrate your AI workforce & drive lasting change across your organization:

Step 1: Strategize

You need a clear vision for the future, including the role of artificial intelligence. An organization with a well-established, well-communicated vision will have an easier time with change, no matter what organizational or workflow change is taking place. Internal alignment on the organization’s goals and values will help your team see how a new process fits into that future vision.

Deloitte even cited “an enterprise strategy for intelligent automation” as a critical factor for organizations who have successfully adopted intelligent automation at scale3.

Step 2: Educate

Once your team has strategized on how the new technology and process fits into the organizational vision, it’s time to educate employees. Clearly explain the technology, the new workflow possibilities, how it will positively impact job roles, and how it supports the team’s overall goals.

In this stage, you should expect a lot of questions and potentially, some fear and anxiety. As automations increase, employee roles necessarily change – that’s the whole point! At Olive, we firmly believe that AI and automation makes healthcare more human again. For instance, staff that once spent hours each day on mindless data entry tasks will be able to focus their human intelligence on strategic initiatives, more complex administration, or patient care.

Step 3: Communicate

Two-way communication will help ensure successful adoption and a positive change management process. You can actively solicit feedback and questions throughout the process and even after implementation. It is important to address not only the technology itself, but also how people are adapting. How have their days positively changed? Is there new work or higher-value projects that can now be addressed? By getting employees involved early and frequently, you’ll help drive adoption and engagement as your health system plans for the future.

Step 4: Assess

The assessment stage is often where things start to go wrong. After an initial communication and education strategy, executives move on to the next initiative. But by assessing progress, tracking against goals, and measuring milestones, you can help make sure that the solution stays on track.

Regular assessment also gives you an opportunity to share progress and thank employees for their participation in the process so far. Celebrating and promoting success stories helps create consistent internal support and shows that you recognize and appreciate the engagement of your employees on critical initiatives like adopting AI.

Step 5: Adapt

Every hospital, every healthcare team, and every individual are unique, so even the best plans and simple changes could have unexpected outcomes. When you facilitate a continuous two-way communication and ongoing assessment checkpoints, you can effectively adapt. This allows you to more quickly address challenges to stay on track with goals, and you can better take advantage of successes along the way.

Your change management strategy is key to AI success

Want to learn more about developing a successful AI change management strategy? Our white paper, “Ushering in a New Era of Productivity: Best Practices to Integrate Your AI Workforce & Drive Lasting Change Across Your Organization”, includes full details on the five steps, including questions, tools, and deliverables for each step, plus examples of real Olive customers’ change management strategies.

Download the White Paper

  1. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20191008005194/en/Artificial-Intelligence-Adoption-Investments-Growing-Rapidly-Health/?feedref=JjAwJuNHiystnCoBq_hl-RLXHJgazfQJNuOVHefdHP-D8R-QU5o2AvY8bhI9uvWSD8DYIYv4TIC1g1u0AKcacnnViVjtb72bOP4-4nHK5ieT3WxPE8m_kWI77F87CseT
  2. https://www.cio.com/article/3433181/the-dark-side-of-robotic-process-automation.html
  3. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/focus/technology-and-the-future-of-work/intelligent-automation-technologies-strategies.html