Adoption Effectiveness for the Healthcare Setting: Engaging active sponsorship and on-the-ground advocates

This is the third post in a series of articles highlighting adoption effectiveness for the healthcare setting.

In our last blog, we addressed the challenges facing healthcare organizations when attempting to implement new technology and the benefits effective adoption can yield for a health system. Now that we understand why adoption effectiveness is so important, this post explores ownership throughout the process.

Active Executive Sponsorship

One of the most critical components in the success of an adoption effectiveness initiative is ongoing executive ownership. When new technology is implemented across a healthcare organization, there is almost always an executive sponsor. However, there’s a tremendous difference between executive leadership approving a new technology and executive leadership actively sponsoring an initiative.

One of the mistakes executive leaders make is not realizing where everyone is on the change continuum and how important it is to account for and support movement from awareness to adoption. An example of this is in the conception and hand-off of major (and minor) organizational initiatives. Before a decision to move forward with a new technology is made, the leadership team has likely spent many months considering the challenge they are attempting to address, weighing the pros, cons and costs, and evaluating potential solutions. In effect, they’ve had time to consider, reflect, research and converse with others – all a critical part of getting onboard with any new idea, initiative or technology.  What these decision makers tend to forget is that while they have already spent a great deal of time “getting to know” the new initiative, managers and employees have yet to hear about it; they haven’t even begun their knowledge and adoption journey. By the time it is shared with the rest of the organization, key leadership has often moved on to other priorities leaving middle managers and staff members to handle the implementation, adoption, and training efforts. The effect is, there is little time or support allocated to allow others in the organization to make their way through the change continuum.

To avoid this gap in knowledge and adoption, sponsors and leaders must remain actively involved from start to finish, including in the initial introduction of the initiative, in the ongoing monitoring of the progress of the implementation, and in the training and adoption efforts that are underway. A key aspect of this active involvement is the provision of ongoing communications which not only reiterate the “why” but also clearly outline the “how” and “when” of the new initiative so that people clearly understand the importance and value of the initiative, see how they fit into the realization of that vision, and truly see and feel that it is in fact a team effort, not a distant mandate from “the suits” in the corner office. This communication, which ideally comes in various forms – both in person and written –  should be continued throughout each stage of the initiative as it is paramount to instilling confidence, maintaining initiative relevance and enhancing overall effectiveness.

The Role of Change Agents

Once we have our active sponsorship in place, it’s important to identify and engage “change agents” to influence seamless and sustainable adoption effectiveness. These change agents are a formal network of on-the-ground leaders who can navigate the nuances of both the personal and the organizational change dynamics. For the record, change agents are not necessarily individuals with leadership titles but rather they are well respected, well connected staff members who are natural leaders that people trust. These staff members become the “go-to” person people rely on when there’s confusion, skepticism, or merely a question. Change agents are able to effectively convey the positive impact to be expected and how to simplify the adoption process and shorten the adoption curve. In effect, these key staff members make the entire process more efficient, thereby reducing risk, improving speed to ROI and making employees happier in the process.

All that said, in order for these change agents to be effective in the role, program leaders should engage the change agents early on in the process to not only leverage their inputs in the design phase but also to get them moving along their own change continuum from initial awareness to eventual advocacy.  Providing needed training and materials in a timely fashion will help ensure they are confident in their role and ready to help deliver the desired results when the time comes.

Once implementation has begun, change agents also become a critical source of feedback from “the field” about how the implementation is going, where adoption is taking root, and where more fine-tuning may be needed. By listening to and incorporating the feedback in a timely fashion, program sponsors and leadership greatly increase the adoption effectiveness by being responsive, flexible and engaged.

Join us on September 6 for the next iteration of our series: Proactively mitigating implementation challenges. Guest blogger Kim Taylor, a Solution Principal and Leadership Coach with Slalom, will discuss some non-negotiables of success and the importance of communication and training in the pursuit of adoption effectiveness.

Please reach out to me, Kim Taylor, with your thoughts and feedback on this post and if there’s something you’d like for us to cover in this series at mailto:kimt@slalom.com or czanetti@indemandinterpreting.com.

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