The Change Epidemic recap

By Cynthea Ryder

You would be hard-pressed to find a healthcare company that isn’t experiencing change in today’s environment. That is what made the webinar presentation “Change Epidemic: Proactively Managing Responses to Change” by Rebecca LaCroix and Grace Lee of PA Consulting Group on April 26 so timely.

As LaCroix and Lee pointed out, by now we all are aware of the industry-wide trends in healthcare, we are living them: healthcare reform, decreasing reimbursement payments, emerging technologies in virtual tele-health, growth through acquisition and a shifting focus to oncology and orphan drugs.

Without a doubt, this unprecedented amount of change makes it difficult to adapt to forces of change and launch change programs. In general, people don't like change. According to LaCroix, the potential benefits of a change need to be three times more effective than the status quo and people need to hear about the change seven times before they are on board with it.

Leaders recognize that there is a positive correlation between well-managed change and business results. Rebecca offered practical tips to proactively lead organizational change and establish good change management practices. She recommended considering these three dimensions when preparing to manage change:

Drive the change: Build a credible business case for change that is based on logical fact, tells a story and calls for action. Make it visual. For example, after a merger, a company can’t have two systems that perform the same function because upkeep is costly and data will not be consistent. Define best practices and structure the organization to align with the vision and be scalable for growth. For each group that is impacted, define roles, describe what will and won’t change, timing and what the group needs to do now.

Release the change: Release the change through skilled empowered and enabled leaders. Identify people who have a high level of political support, act according to company values, are not afraid of conflict, are fantastic facilitators and have good project management skills. Their job will be to advocate for the change every chance they get, listen for feedback, gather the real reasons for resistance and then circle back with sponsors.

Pace the change: Change managers need to allow people to go through the stages of change acceptance --surprise, denial, anger and resistance, cautious acceptance, experiments and trials, acceptance and integration--so that they can absorb what is going on and adjust. Keep in mind that people usually go through more than one change at a time.

As a change leader, remember that although change has reached epidemic proportions, change happens one person at a time.

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