10 Jan Facilitating Change in Your Practice

Change management and facilitating those changes are some of the most challenging aspects of leadership. Whether you’re a physician owner, leader, or administrator, enacting change affects your patients, your staff, your business, and yourself. Careful planning is essential to ensuring that necessary changes can be effectively put into place. Here are some key points to consider when starting the process:

Get your team on board – Engaging your colleagues and staff in the change process is the most critical step. Without their support and efforts, any attempt at implementing a new policy, workflow, or practice is bound to collapse. Assess your practice’s culture and identify challenges that you may have faced in the past when trying to make adjustments, identify those individuals who are willing to assist in the process, and consider how to manage those who are more reluctant.

Identify and articulate the problem you’re trying to solve – Change for change’s sake is best avoided. The most effective practice adjustments are those specifically targeted towards addressing an issue. Whether that’s an internal workflow, staff concerns, or new payment models, narrowing down your focus will make planning and implementation more manageable. By clearly defining the issue, you can frame the need for change in a manner in which people will understand the need for a solution, and also emphasize the potential results if the problem remains unaddressed.

Do your homework – An effective strategy is based on a full understanding of the background. Gathering both subjective observations and objective data will let you and your team have a full view of the issue at hand and help form your path towards a solution. Making this a team effort goes a long way in eliminating potential blind spots (we all have them), and identifying barriers.

Communicate, communicate, communicate – Change is never easy. Open dialogue and empathy are necessary to engaging physicians, clinicians, and staff. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the challenges your stakeholders face, and ask for their advice and teamwork- incorporating a wide variety of viewpoints will aid in the development of comprehensive solutions. Keep your group up to date on progress too. Whether you’re in the fact-finding, planning, or implementation stages, transparency is essential to reassuring team members that they’re part of the process.

Facilitating changes in your practice can be a complex undertaking. Here are some of our favorite resources:

The AMA’s Steps Forward Toolkits

The UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s Guide to Understanding, Identifying, and Overcoming Barriers to Change

The AAFP’s Key to Implementing Change in Your Practice

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