Biggest Challenges to Implementing Change in Healthcare and Hospitals
By The Altus Team
Published Apr 19, 2022
| Updated Nov 14, 2023
| 5 min read
Our healthcare systems are constantly innovating and evolving to provide better care while creating better work environments for providers and staff. While challenges persist in change-making, hospitals and healthcare systems can strategically plan for change to reduce barriers and resistance, creating a more quality healthcare ecosystem along the way.
Below we explore the five biggest challenges to implementing change in healthcare and hospitals and how leadership can overcome these obstacles
1. Leadership Stability
Change will not occur from the bottom up. Hospital and healthcare leaders must champion change for it to happen.
Unfortunately, implementing changes within the healthcare system or within individual hospitals is often a slow, laborious task. Leadership within healthcare often changes. Instability in leadership within healthcare systems prevents policy or logistical changes from getting off the ground. According to Becker Hospital Review, the average tenure of a hospital CEO is just 3.5 years. And as CEOs change, other leadership changes too. Many hospitals are revolving doors of leadership staff.
Stable leadership in healthcare is necessary for big-picture change to happen. When healthcare and hospital leadership is transient, it’s difficult for long-term change to take place.
2. Competing Demands
It’s rare for hospitals or healthcare systems to work toward a single change at any point in time. Each department within a hospital has its own focus and demands that require its attention. The demands of these different departments make trying to implement major change initiatives at the same time difficult at bad or impossible at worst.
Competing demands highlight the necessity of unified leadership. Uniting leadership to make decisions that affect change requires all parties to be on the same page, which can feel improbable if not impossible. Healthcare C-suites must not only work together but sincerely listen to one another as they discuss and prioritize changes. This simple practice can help clarify priorities and needs so teams can champion change together and accomplish more than had they attempted to execute multiple changes at once.
3. Scarce Resources
The U.S. healthcare system is a multi-trillion-dollar industry. Even so, hospital leadership must walk the line between strict budgets and the need to implement change. Budget optimization in healthcare settings is key to conserving financial resources so they can be allocated to projects that implement meaningful change. Unfortunately, scarce resources, such as financial resources, workers, and time, consistently prevent change in healthcare and hospitals across the country.
When trying to implement change, financial resources, or a lack thereof in the budget, can block it from happening. While healthcare workers struggle to find the mean within their budget, they find themselves lacking more than just that resource. Some healthcare workers may find themselves taking on several added responsibilities while also trying to organize and implement projects for change. The change-makers that are expected to take on added responsibilities often are unable to find the time to balance everything and end up dropping the least feasible responsibility presented to them.
Time is a precious commodity that healthcare workers across the board will say is in short supply. To see change through, leadership, champions, and team supporters must have the capacity to take part in planning and executing these changes.
4. Technical Issues
Change across clinics, hospitals, or even entire hospital systems must be planned so that all parties can successfully adapt. When forecasting change, hospital administration and leadership should proactively choose tools and resources that make stepping into these changes simple and seamless. This includes equipment and asset tracking solutions.
Technical issues are frustrating for staff and drain hospitals of time and financial resources. When choosing equipment and programs for your hospital’s operations, invest in products and support that make the transition simple –– and even enjoyable –– for your team.
RTLS companies exist to make work easier for your IT team. Asset tracking services offer the solution to all your RTLS healthcare needs. It provides IT with the resources and tools they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. From location tracking to repair management, Altus’s asset tracking solutions make change adaptation easy for your entire team, so they can carry on with the good work they do.
In addition to a hospital’s IT team being overwhelmed by the implementation of technology, clinicians are just as overwhelmed by learning how to use it. To make the process easier, Altus designs and manufactures computer workstations that make healthcare delivery simple for your team. Each healthcare worker can have a workstation on wheels that are made with them in mind and fits their workflow. We design our mobile computer carts to prioritize an ergonomic and intuitive design that boosts safety and efficiency. Clinicians and staff can confidently use and implement technology to improve their workflows as well as the level of care they provide to patients.
5. Staff Buy-in
Executing change in healthcare and hospitals cannot be done in the C-suite alone. If your staff is not bought in and committed to the long-term vision, change will happen slowly or not at all. Earning employee trust is crucial to seeing change in your organization.
The lack of team engagement, buy-in, and trust consistently pose significant barriers to implementing change in healthcare. So much so that Harvard Business Review published an article titled “How to Get Healthcare Employees Onboard with Change.” In the article, the author, Jeffrey Brickman, examined the tension between leadership’s desire for long-term, big-picture change and staff’s desire for more pressing day-to-day issues to be acknowledged and addressed.
Healthcare work demands a lot from those in the field. The industry has seen record-breaking turnover and burnout among its employees, with some studies showing nurse burnout levels as high as 70 percent. For staff to support change implementation programs or plans, hospital leadership must take action to reduce burnout and gain the trust of those with boots on the ground.
By addressing nurse, provider, and support staff concerns, hospital leadership communicates the value these parties bring to the table. And by meeting the needs of healthcare workers, like adequate staffing, managerial support, and a healthy work environment, leadership gains the trust of their team, which is a crucial component of implementing systemic changes.
Implementing change in hospitals can hit a lot of roadblocks along the way. Bringing staff together to combat the biggest challenges makes implementing change easier. Adding new technology partners that know how hard healthcare staff work to help their patients, and what their workflows look like can also make implementing change easier. Contact Altus to learn how our workstation solutions can help your hospital systems run smoothly and help your team adapt more easily and readily to changes.