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Assessing Your Healthcare Initiative Readiness

Once healthcare transformation becomes one of your organization’s strategic iniatives, you’re ready to begin innovating. We’ve learned that unsuccessful healthcare initiatives generally revolve around a lack of strategic prioritization, focus, and discipline. The following seven guidelines will help you further plan—and assess—your organization’s readiness for disruptive healthcare initiatives:

  1. Commit to a strategic process, not a project. The magnitude of change required for successful transformation initiatives is substantial and ongoing. An organization must accept the fact that the pace of change requires more than an incremental response for success. Transforming healthcare initiaives requires investment in people, process, and technology. Determining when and how your organization will make these investments is a crucial first step.
  2. Declare and support a senior executive champion. Delegating the responsibilities of a healthcare initiative downward in the organization can position it for failure. An organization must maintain the proper strategic focus on its transforming initiatives because it will most likely redirect the time and resources of the entire organization. It’s our recommendation that the senior executive champion reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer and has regular input to governance.
  3. Openly debate the critical decisions and make them. Major healthcare initiatives require clear, definitive, and accountable decision-making capability. Despite the best planning efforts, errors will occur in budget allocations, people selection, technology integration, vendor capabilities, and a host of other areas.
  4. You’ll want to ensure adequate resource allocation for budget, people, and time. Too frequently in an effort to contain costs, the budget for healthcare initiatives does not support the magnitude of the change. In our experience, budgets related to the more technical aspects of the effort are scrutinized in some detail while the “softer”—yet equally critical investments related to support personnel and implementation resources receive insufficient focus.
  5. Embrace process redesign. An ongoing, standardized approach to performance improvement is an important foundation in support of transformation. Adopting an approach for your healthcare initiative  (i.e., LEAN, Six Sigma, etc.) will provide your organization with a standardized framework to improve cross-functional focus, communications, and decision-making as it proceeds with redesigning the approach to care delivery.
  6. Define your metrics. Because of the perceived “complexity” of transforming healthcare initiatives and the companion IT projects, management, and governance frequently do not demand the same level of thoughtful, outcomes-focused measurement and scrutiny reserved for other strategic projects. Without the benefit of clear, agreed-upon metrics, attaining organization clarity on the ultimate benefits of the healthcare initiative is difficult. Leadership must “shine the light” on the healthcare initiative with metrics and require their use as a foundation for measuring the impact of the disruptive innovations in healthcare’s you pursue.
  7. Use national standards, guidelines, and evidence-based best practices. While clinical aspects of the care delivery process (i.e., best practices, guidelines, etc.) have not yet resulted in clear national standards, other elements related to the technical and implementation aspects of deployment can be held to rigorous, national standards. We suggest you use the best practices where they exist.
  8. Operations must drive the initiative with support from Information Technology rather than the reverse. Too frequently, major healthcare initiatives involving information technology are “assigned” to the IT department, which often approach them as an “IT project” rather than as a transforming initiative. A better option is a cross-disciplinary approach that includes physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other clinicians; in addition to support from human resources, finance, and information technology in healthcare, among others. Ultimately, healthcare initiatives must be seen as a primary accountability of operational leadership, with appropriate staff support.

Is Your Organization Ready?

We’ve learned that unsuccessful healthcare initiatives generally revolve around a lack of strategic prioritization, focus, and discipline.

Check your readiness now.