In­grain­ing Tech­nol­ogy into the Cul­ture

Modern Healthcare - - WORKFORCE -

Tech­nol­ogy is a go­liath on the move.

Over the past decade, health­care providers have spent bil­lions on tech­nol­ogy, driven by in­cen­tives such as mean­ing­ful use, and seis­mic in­dus­try changes such as pay­ment re­form and pop­u­la­tion health man­age­ment. Head­ing into 2017, 40% of provider IT bud­gets are still grow­ing, ac­cord­ing to IDC Health In­sights.

Now, providers are bank­ing on the prom­ise of tech­nol­ogy to in­crease ef­fi­cien­cies, im­prove care and bridge the gap to a value-based world. But, what good is tech­nol­ogy if it is not used to its po­ten­tial?

Most clin­i­cians choose a ca­reer in health­care to help peo­ple—not to spend hours of their time learn­ing and us­ing new tech­nolo­gies. But, a work­force that is com­mit­ted to and en­gaged with tech­nol­ogy is vi­tal to en­sur­ing your in­vest­ment pays off.

Three of the best ways to im­prove tech­nol­ogy adop­tion across your health­care work­force in­clude: find­ing the com­mon ground be­tween tech­nol­ogy and work­flow; giv­ing tech­nol­ogy a star­ring role in your com­pany cul­ture; and lever­ag­ing tech­nol­ogy cham­pi­ons.

1. Find the Com­mon Ground Be­tween Tech­nol­ogy and Work­flow

It’s a com­mon sce­nario: You in­vested, you’re try­ing to train the front­line health­care provider, and it’s not go­ing well. “When­ever pos­si­ble, con­sider the ef­fect on long­stand­ing work­flows be­fore you in­vest in tech­nol­ogy,” said Mark Fried­berg, M.D., se­nior nat­u­ral sci­en­tist and di­rec­tor at RAND Cor­po­ra­tion in Bos­ton. “Talk to the front line and get their opin­ions about tech­nol­ogy that works well, or doesn’t, with their work­flow.”

Tech­nol­ogy adop­tion can be a com­plete trans­for­ma­tion of or­ga­ni­za­tional pro­cesses and cul­ture, but it must be done over time. Providers that en­joy smooth tech­nol­ogy im­ple­men­ta­tions talk with staff first to un­der­stand the work­flows of dif­fer­ent ar­eas, and then design a staged roll­out that molds the tech­nol­ogy and work­flows to­gether.

Smart re­design of work­flows in­cen­tivizes team mem­bers to work at the top of their li­censes. When care is stan­dard and pre­dictable, cer­tain tasks can be per­formed as part of a team or by other providers in­stead of physi­cians, said C. Martin Har­ris, M.D., chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer of the Cleveland Clinic. Har­ris is also a mem­ber of the eHealth Ini­tia­tive Lead­er­ship Coun­cil and re­cently co-au­thored the book, “IT’s About Pa­tient Care: Trans­form­ing Health­care In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy the Cleveland Clinic Way.”

“For ex­am­ple, re­fill­ing a med­i­ca­tion used to be done only by physi­cians, but now can be done by a phar­ma­cist us­ing tech­nol­ogy,” Har­ris said. “The physi­cian can then be in­formed and ev­ery­one gets a sense of im­prove­ment.”

2. Give Tech­nol­ogy a Star­ring Role in Your Com­pany Cul­ture

If you want em­ploy­ees to change their be­hav­ior around tech­nol­ogy adop­tion, try to help them un­der­stand “What’s in it for me?” said Seth Serxner, chief health of­fi­cer and se­nior vice pres­i­dent of pop­u­la­tion health at Op­tum Pre­ven­tion So­lu­tions. “They also need to know how their ac­tions link to the broader mis­sion of the or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

In­stead of forc­ing an immersion of tech­nol­ogy into cul­ture, slowly in­tro­duce and con­tin­u­ally re­in­force how tech­nol­ogy is a means to achiev­ing per­sonal and or­ga­ni­za­tional goals, from pa­tient sat­is­fac­tion to high-qual­ity care and pa­tient safety. “As you think about how tech­nol­ogy fits into your cul­ture, help em­ploy­ees see that tech­nol­ogy is now a part of ‘how we do things around here’ in terms of ef­fi­ciency, safety and pa­tient qual­ity,” Serxner said.

Har­ris of­fers a point of cau­tion, based on ex­pe­ri­ence: Be care­ful about ty­ing com­pen­sa­tion to tech­nol­ogy use. “Com­pen­sa­tion can be one el­e­ment of an over­all work­force man­age­ment-by-ob­jec­tives pro­gram,” he said. “But qual­ity and team­work must also bal­ance the score­card to drive be­hav­ior with­out things get­ting out of kil­ter.”

3. Lever­age Tech­nol­ogy Cham­pi­ons

When con­sid­er­ing what drives a work­force to high per­for­mance, de­fault to mak­ing an ex­am­ple of the high per­form­ers in­stead of fo­cus­ing on those who lag be­hind.

“There will al­ways be a small per­cent­age who are lag­gers or non-adopters, and pun­ish­ing them is not rea­son­able or ef­fec­tive,” Serxner said. In­stead, rec­og­nize and re­ward those who are adopt­ing tech­nol­ogy, driven by a sense of ac­com­plish­ment and by demon­strat­ing how their hard work is help­ing them reach per­sonal and or­ga­ni­za­tional goals.

Tech­nol­ogy cham­pi­ons within every part of the or­ga­ni­za­tion can lead by ex­am­ple, en­cour­ag­ing other em­ploy­ees to adopt and use tech­nol­ogy to the height of its po­ten­tial. More cham­pi­ons leads to bet­ter or­ga­ni­za­tion­wide adop­tion, which leads to less train­ing—and even­tu­ally, pay­off for tech­nol­ogy in­vest­ments.

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