Technology is a goliath on the move.
Over the past decade, healthcare providers have spent billions on technology, driven by incentives such as meaningful use, and seismic industry changes such as payment reform and population health management. Heading into 2017, 40% of provider IT budgets are still growing, according to IDC Health Insights.
Now, providers are banking on the promise of technology to increase efficiencies, improve care and bridge the gap to a value-based world. But, what good is technology if it is not used to its potential?
Most clinicians choose a career in healthcare to help people—not to spend hours of their time learning and using new technologies. But, a workforce that is committed to and engaged with technology is vital to ensuring your investment pays off.
Three of the best ways to improve technology adoption across your healthcare workforce include: finding the common ground between technology and workflow; giving technology a starring role in your company culture; and leveraging technology champions.
1. Find the Common Ground Between Technology and Workflow
It's a common scenario: You invested, you're trying to train the frontline healthcare provider, and it's not going well. “Whenever possible, consider the effect on longstanding workflows before you invest in technology,” said Mark Friedberg, M.D., senior natural scientist and director at RAND Corporation in Boston. “Talk to the front line and get their opinions about technology that works well, or doesn't, with their workflow.”
Technology adoption can be a complete transformation of organizational processes and culture, but it must be done over time. Providers that enjoy smooth technology implementations talk with staff first to understand the workflows of different areas, and then design a staged rollout that molds the technology and workflows together.
Smart redesign of workflows incentivizes team members to work at the top of their licenses. When care is standard and predictable, certain tasks can be performed as part of a team or by other providers instead of physicians, said C. Martin Harris, M.D., chief information officer of the Cleveland Clinic. Harris is also a member of the eHealth Initiative Leadership Council and recently co-authored the book, “IT's About Patient Care: Transforming Healthcare Information Technology the Cleveland Clinic Way.”
“For example, refilling a medication used to be done only by physicians, but now can be done by a pharmacist using technology,” Harris said. “The physician can then be informed and everyone gets a sense of improvement.”
2. Give Technology a Starring Role in Your Company Culture
If you want employees to change their behavior around technology adoption, try to help them understand “What's in it for me?” said Seth Serxner, chief health officer and senior vice president of population health at Optum Prevention Solutions. “They also need to know how their actions link to the broader mission of the organization.”
Instead of forcing an immersion of technology into culture, slowly introduce and continually reinforce how technology is a means to achieving personal and organizational goals, from patient satisfaction to high-quality care and patient safety. “As you think about how technology fits into your culture, help employees see that technology is now a part of 'how we do things around here' in terms
of efficiency, safety and patient quality,” Serxner said.
Harris offers a point of caution, based on experience: Be careful about tying compensation to technology use. “Compensation can be one element of an overall workforce management-by-objectives program,” he said. “But quality and teamwork must also balance the scorecard to drive behavior without things getting out of kilter.”
3. Leverage Technology Champions
When considering what drives a workforce to high performance, default to making an example of the high performers instead of focusing on those who lag behind.
“There will always be a small percentage who are laggers or non-adopters, and punishing them is not reasonable or effective,” Serxner said. Instead, recognize and reward those who are adopting technology, driven by a sense of accomplishment and by demonstrating how their hard work is helping them reach personal and organizational goals.
Technology champions within every part of the organization can lead by example, encouraging other employees to adopt and use technology to the height of its potential. More champions leads to better organization-wide adoption, which leads to less training—and eventually, payoff for technology investments.