The digital healthcare consultancy Ideal Health joined us for the final day of the April 2021 HTN Now series to talk about the the importance of change management in digital transformation, in regards to achieving adoption and delivering benefits.
Considering what a ‘good’ transformation journey looks like, as well as addressing common challenges, were Gaelle Fertil, Director of Transformation and Change and her colleague Martin Smith, Change Practice Manager.
Giving a preview and a summary of the ideas behind their presentation, Gaelle explained: “We like to focus on the people side of EPR implementations…we work on supporting digital health systems transformation.
“We wanted to talk a little around ‘what does good look like in successful digital health adoption’…we’re going to talk about transformation and why transformation is not the goal.”
Starting with a quote from Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, Gaelle said: “‘The pace of change has never been this fast, yet it will never be this slow again’ – really what we’re saying here is we are constantly being faced with change. And if we think change is really fast now, actually it’s only going to get worse. We need to make sure we are forever building our skillset, our processes and our ability to respond to change as quickly as possible, and embedding that within our programme delivery and our organisation.”
Focusing in on digital transformation and pinpointing what a ‘good’ realisation of that is, Gaelle continued: “We need to really keep our eye on what the ultimate benefit and ultimate value is that we’re trying to deliver…we tend to get a little bit lost in the detail of transformation, in the mechanics of it. But it’s really key to keep our eye on what the ultimate aim is – who will benefit from it? And what we need to do to change the people, the processes, the way of doing things, in order to achieve that benefit.
“We can also define the change and that means we can then measure it…transformation is never about the technology, it’s never about the tools, it’s never about any of the gizmos that we deliver, it’s always about the ultimate benefit.”
Gaelle also mentioned that if people want to define what good looks like, the first thing it’s important to define is “what does good, successful adoption look like when we’re rolling out additional systems” The ultimate aim for good change management is adoption.
But what does that mean? Gaelle explained that, for Ideal Health, “what we boil it down to is that [it means] staff are using the system as it was designed to be used and with that we are achieving an improvement in a variety of areas: patient safety, staff experience, patient experience, cost efficiency, operational and clinical performance.”
“A different rollout may have different benefits”, Gaelle admitted, “the idea here is that we look for improvements through adoption. Adoption is kind of a means to an end, because by adopting the system we are achieving benefits.”
Gaelle also covered what she called Ideal Health’s ‘five building blocks’ for good programme delivery of change management: benefits planning, sponsorship and leadership, organisational readiness, communications and engagement, and change capability.
While, taking us through each of the ‘blocks’, key takeaways were that “without good sponsorship and with good leadership…it is almost impossible to achieve a good change delivery” and that it’s crucial to “make sure that we are continuing to talk about change even after a programme is complete”.
“One of biggest mistakes I think organisations make” she added, is letting go of teams while there is still more work to be done in terms of “future programmes and embedding knowledge”.
But, she continued, “how do we know that we have arrived at good? What does that look like? What is really the ‘nirvana’ of change management – what is it that we’re all dreaming of?
Gaelle suggested that “we’re looking for a clinical and ops leads to be engaged, we’re looking for how value is projected and talk[ing] about value in everything we do, we talk about the ‘why’, we talk about the benefits, we measure it, we realise it. It’s central to the day-to-day conversations – not just in the programme delivery.”
From an NHS perspective, Martin added that: “In the context of the NHS, we know that patient care is king…we know there is a common thread of passion about delivery of high-quality patient care and working as a team.
“Challenges in recruitment – particularly clinical roles – has left many staff within many NHS organisations stretched, fatigued and in a position where change is just another problem to deal with. That does not make change easy.”
“We also know”, Martin added, that “the NHS isn’t a single entity, there isn’t one organisation…organisations are large, they’re complex and alignment is often challenging…as a consequence the digital landscape within the NHS is often fragmented.”
Acknowledging that “this is not new news…but because of these challenges, this is a reason to pay close attention to change management…because of the complexity, the need to do change management well is even more fundamental.”
Considering some of the main barriers to change management, Martin highlighted the saying that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ and raised that “it is the biggest barrier that organisations will face when implementing significant change”.
To create a resilient culture for change, Martin suggested six concepts: to be collective and make the change ‘everyone’s problem’, to be problem solvers and look for solutions, to be a scientist by tinkering and trying different solutions, to be curious and ask questions, to be behaviour aware and favour outcomes over output, and also to be humble by asking for ideas from everyone.
Emphasising their points throughout the chat, Martin said: “Make sure that people are as ready as they can be; not only to go live, but to thrive with a solution afterwards. This is where it’s really key…this isn’t just about going live, this is about living with it for a long time. The scale of investments in IT…is huge, it’s significant. Making sure sure people are equipped to live with long-term is really the ultimate.”
Watch the full video chat, plus audience Q&A, below:
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