Approaching Change in Health Care Delivery Settings

Health care is a team sport, where change typically requires the efforts of multiple key players. Continuous improvement in the health care arena often involves introducing new team members and processes. Like any team sport, successful change management initiatives require our teams to work together. In healthcare, failure to change quickly and efficiently can come with a hefty price. People’s lives are at stake and every mistake that occurs has the potential for immense repercussions.  

As regulations and technology continuously evolve to meet the needs of patients, our health system must change to in order to address inadequacies and ensure equitable care. Our health care delivery system can only make progress towards high reliability care by embracing change and viewing change as an opportunity to improve the status quo. 

In this blog we will dive into the importance of using data drive to change management initiatives and introduce a Pharmacy example where we used data to drive change. In Part II we will review common challenges and strategies for overcoming change management hurdles in complex healthcare environments. 

Using Data to Drive Continuous Improvement

Throughout the years, Improvement Path Systems has worked in both public and private sector hospitals across the nation and even overseas. In that time, we have found that data is one of the most powerful tools in driving change. Data is a powerful tool because it allows us to remove the fear of the unknown, understand performance, pinpoint the root cause of system defects, and even predict what will happen in the future 

Leveraging data science, we help clients identify system defects and create data-driven solutions. Oftentimes, our clients are so close to a problem they cannot recognize the root-cause, and that’s where external expertise like IPS’ proves valuable in identifying system defects and waste. Data allows us to precisely pinpoint operational gaps, the root-cause of system defects, and even simulate what success looks like. 

Driving Change in the Pharmacy

Let’s explore an applied example of how we used data to drive change in the Pharmacy. Our client struggled to understand the root cause of system failures and lacked the ability to get the full picture of their data. Data lived in multiple, disconnected systems, which prevented pharmacists from really understanding their full operational picture.

By bringing together disparate sources, we were able to pinpoint actionable interventions by identifying the root-cause of system defects. With a deep understanding of the inpatient pharmacy’s operations and pain-points, we guided our client through interventions that increased patient safety, reduced pharmacy workload, and ultimately saved the hospital millions of dollars. You can learn more about the specific interventions and the changes our client made in our Pharmacy White Paper

The Big Picture

Data and analytics are essential tools in motivating change. However, data and analytics are only pieces of a larger puzzle when it comes to managing change in health care. The other pieces of the puzzle: the processes and motivating the people who control those processes to change are arguably the most difficult hurdles to overcoming change.

Sometimes called the soft side of change, managing the people side of a change is often the most challenging and critical component of an organizational transformation.” Quote from ProSci

 So why is that, you are probably wondering? The people side of managing change is complex and multidimensionalCheck out Part II of our Change Management Series where we will explore challenges in motivating teams and strategies of driving change in healthcare.  


About the Author

Gabrielle Stewart an Account Manager and the BD Marketing Lead at Improvement Path Systems. Gabrielle has been a part of the IPS team for close to four years and has over 10 years of health care experience. She is a FEMA certified Emergency Manager, a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, and has a Master of Science in Health Systems Engineering.

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