Making changes within organizations is always challenging, no matter the industry. Hospitals are no exception. New technologies, regulations and the shift from fee-for-service to value-based payment models are just some of the changes turning healthcare on its head.
For healthcare systems to succeed in today’s environment of connected and accountable care, hospitals need a culture of engagement and accountability that encourages and motivates staff to adopt new behaviors, actions and strategies. “Organizations must create a safe environment for evolutionary behavior, encouraging staff to embrace change while recognizing that it is not always easy,” Howard Grant, president and CEO of Lahey Health, told Becker’s Hospital Review. “As reimbursement diminishes while the costs of care delivery rise, the most successful organizations will be the ones that are the most nimble.”
How can you help your hospital staff—nurses, technicians, chief nursing officers and others—overcome their fear of organizational change? Here are three ways to start.
- Emphasize the results. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “He who has a ‘why’ … can bear almost any ‘how.’” Your employees want to know why things are changing—whether that change is a new patient communications system or a shift in leadership. Start by explaining the intended results of the change. Will it cut costs? Reduce readmissions? Paint a vivid picture of what these changes can accomplish. Instead of stressing the procedures around the change, explain why it is necessary. “The best place to start is to explain why your hospital is choosing to go through this change in simple terms that your audiences will understand,” writes Ross Goldberg in Becker’s Hospital Review. “Once there is that understanding and acceptance—and once you have made your case in a compelling way—you can get into the who, what, when and how.”
- Communicate. There is no such thing as “overcommunicating” when trying to implement change. Employees want to know how the change will personally affect them and what, essentially, is in it for them. Don’t keep your employees in the dark or hold closed-door, secretive meetings that worry staff. Hold town hall meetings and invite employees to ask questions or have an open-door policy that encourages staff members to share concerns. Consider sending a weekly email update on how changes are progressing or include updates in monthly employee newsletters.
- Engage employees. True transformation in an organization hinges on committed, engaged employees. Gallup defines “engagement” as the “emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. This emotional commitment means engaged employees actually care about their work and their company.” “Employees do better in terms of providing quality healthcare and a great patient experience when they are engaged,” William Pryor, chief human resources officer at Cane Fear Valley Health System in Fayetteville, N.C., told Becker’s Hospital Review. “Engagement really drives every facet of a health system. And it is contagious. If there are employees who are resistant and disengaged, those negative headwinds will pull you away from where you’re trying to go. We want peer pressure to be positive.”
Hospital executives must be willing to lead by example and equip them with the resources they need. If your hospital is grappling with change, set the vision for what you would like your staff to achieve by modeling the behaviors you want to see from them. According to FierceHealthcare, employee engagement is one area hospital leaders can control during shifting industry changes.
Change may be scary and daunting at first, but successful change can bring a myriad of benefits that are good not only for nursing teams and hospitals but also patients. Adopting change can lead to fewer medical errors, increased revenue, improved reimbursement, better communication, happier staff and patients, and an overall more positive culture.
At Amplion, we’re focused on helping hospital create a stronger, more patient-centered culture built on communication, collaboration and compassionate care through our next-generation nurse call system. Our data-driven Amplion Alert platform uses smart technology and workflow optimization to enhance nurse call, patient safety, care coordination and alarm management, giving hospital leaders the tools and visibility they need to boost morale and accountability. Schedule a free consultation with us to learn how we can help your hospital build happier, more engaged teams that deliver a first-class patient experience.