Hospitals and medical practices are increasingly looking to adopt new technology in an attempt to stay resilient throughout the pandemic.
Hospitals and medical practices are increasingly looking to adopt new technology in an attempt to stay resilient throughout the pandemic. In fact, a recent survey from Deloitte reports that 78% of CFOs expect to increase capital spending in digital technology, and 85% say that even after the pandemic, virtual health technologies will be an increased priority. It’s clear that virtual care has quickly become the next frontier for care delivery.
Such an investment, however, doesn’t come without concern. While improving patient care is always a priority, the same study reported that nearly half of CFOs also reported worrying about the financial viability of their organizations. From a leadership perspective, quick, clear, and quantifiable return on investment must also be a top priority.
The speed at which hospitals will see financial ROI from digital technology implementations depends greatly on the change management strategies leaders use to help the culture adapt. Similarly, leaders must ensure that staff members can incorporate virtual care tools smoothly into their current workflows in order to see positive clinical outcomes.
Improving virtual care ROI: change management
Gaining buy-in for virtual technology implementation has become a smoother process for hospital leaders during the pandemic. When it’s clear how virtual care will help on-site nurses and other staff reduce their increasingly heavy workloads and improve patient care at a time when they’re stretched thinner than ever, they’re likelier to jump on board with the change.
Historically, however, it has been difficult for hospital leaders to convince organizations of the benefits of changing up traditional care delivery. Part of the issue was job security: “What will virtual care mean for the future of my job?” Although staff members today are likelier to buy in to technology implementation, leaders must still expect that some may be resistant to change. This is one reason leaders must focus on the change management process if they want to see positive ROI.
Another reason is that because on-site staff members are so busy with the day-to-day demands of the job, adjusting workflows, processes, and cultures to accommodate virtual care tools can seem overwhelming. Leaders must account for this as they build change management strategies to ensure a transition with as little friction as possible.
To see both financial ROI and positive clinical outcomes from your hospital technology implementation, incorporate the following strategies into your change management process:
1. Get CNOs and CFOs on the same page early on.
While hospitals always want to deliver the best possible patient care, certain initiatives sometimes run counter to the organization’s financial goals. Sign-offs on care plans often go directly to the CNO, so do ratios of care delivery. Failure to work hand-in-hand with the CFO, naturally, increases the chances of simultaneously missing financial goals and exceeding operational costs.
The same is true with new hospital technology investments. Even though technology can play a significant role in improving patient outcomes and driving value for healthcare organizations, it’s more important than ever for CNOs to closely collaborate with CFOs in the vetting process. Otherwise, the investment is unlikely to satisfy both clinical and financial incentives.
2. Appoint champions to clinical teams.
A champion of change management should be someone who interfaces with both the hospital technology provider and the clinical teams that will be using the technology in their day-to-day workflows. At the beginning of the implementation, champions should engage clinical teams and build excitement around the technology launch and then organize training events to help them quickly become familiar with the new tools.
Ultimately, the champion’s purpose is to ensure that both parties work together toward aligned clinical and financial goals. Throughout the implementation process, they can work hand-in-hand with clinical teams to identify gaps and get ahead of any change management problems before they become deeper cultural issues.
3. Form a comprehensive view of total operating costs.
If you don’t manage operating costs and expenses from the beginning of any initiative, the potential of increasing the costs of doing business and care delivery grows exponentially. Before implementing new hospital technology, define how exactly it will help optimize tasks while still improving patient outcomes. Which tasks can be more efficiently handled via virtual care technology, and which should remain in the hands of clinical floor staff?
From there, determine how to optimize the workforce by calculating the minutes needed to complete these unassisted tasks. Task virtualization is relatively straightforward, as you should already have an idea of the timing, on average, for task completion. Using these calculations, look at your census need and determine how to allocate clinicians based on which tasks will need to be performed in person versus by technology. This should also provide insights into which parts of the workforce will require retraining or will need to be deployed in different ways.
Balancing ROI with clinical outcomes can be a challenge during normal time. With the current level of uncertainty, the task has simply grown in complexity. Collaboration among leadership teams, combined with a strong hospital change management process, is essential to driving the return on new technology while improving patient care.
Michael Bandy is chief operating officer at Banyan Medical Systems, an innovative digital healthcare provider.