Successfully navigating from volume- to value-based care cannot be mandated down from leadership, nor can it rise up organically from a star performer among the ranks. Even though as individuals any one of us might like to believe that I alone can make profound changes in the world or in our organizations, transformations on the scale needed in healthcare require much more than extraordinary personal effort. Healthcare is complicated. Successful transformations don’t come easy or overnight. Navigating to value in healthcare takes solid leadership, the right team, and an organization that not only appreciates what lies ahead but also is fully committed to getting there.
I have come to learn, through both successes and setbacks, there are key attributes that help ensure successful change. These attributes are found in five vital areas—the project team, project leadership, organizational leadership, organizational support, and mindset and expectations.
The Project Team
Perhaps most importantly, members of the project team must know and feel that they are empowered to make decisions that drive improvement. They have to believe what they’re doing is valuable and will make a positive difference. They must also be agile. For transformation efforts to succeed, project team members must be able to adapt quickly to dynamic work environments.
In order to develop the vital sense of empowerment in the project team I mentioned above, you need project leaders who value input and feedback from the team. Leaders need to be able to break through departmental and hierarchical boundaries to develop relationships across the organization. In order to better connect with and lead the team, they must have working knowledge of the data analysis techniques and tools that are being used by the team to help drive the transformation.
Organizational leaders must be accessible and be able to clearly align change efforts with the organization’s vision, ethics and expected outcomes. They need to be visible and actively encouraging change efforts. This type of support is made visible by being attentive and inquisitive about the change process, working to remove barriers, and creating time for high-quality personnel to participate.
To implement change efforts more quickly, create a centralized cluster of coaches, data engineers, and patient architects across the organization that have experience in transformation efforts. These personnel act as mentors for those on the current project team and help to manage rapid change in the organization by sharing the lessons they have learned in the past. Because these mentors also have their own full time jobs in other departments, they, in turn, need support from the organization to give them ample time to participate as mentors.
Mindset and Expectations
Again, healthcare is complicated. Complex systems often require complex solutions. People involved in transformations must appreciate that although lessons learned from prior efforts can be valuable, each project has its own dynamics, and there is no one comprehensive answer that will bring success to every effort. The key is to learn by doing and to keep the organization learning.
So far we have explored how to harness variation in the organization and some of the elements in empowering and building teams to create greater value, but what is value? How do you know it when you see it? In the next article, we will focus on how to look for value opportunities in your organization.
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