Digital transformation in healthcare, spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, has recently become a major area of focus for healthcare organizations of all kinds and sizes.

In general, trends and technologies such as remote work, cloud computing, 5G, improved user experiences, and cybersecurity have been driving digital transformation initiatives. Within the healthcare sector, businesses are using digital transformation to find new ways to engage and monitor patients (e.g., telehealth and wearable technologies), improve patient experiences and outcomes, create new efficiencies and cut costs, and more.

Yet even with the best intentions and the most carefully laid plans, digital transformation projects can easily go awry if they don’t account for one simple yet crucial factor: user adoption.

In a study by McKinsey & Company of why transformation initiatives succeed or fail, 84% of companies said that their CEOs were engaged and committed to the change. Meanwhile, 73% of companies with a successful initiative said that their frontline employees were similarly committed — while only 46% of companies that failed saw a commitment from their workers in the trenches.

Involving your employees in digital transformation projects is undoubtedly a make-or-break factor for their success. And you’ll need all the help you can get: some studies estimate that less than 30% of digital transformation initiatives ultimately succeed.

Getting all hands on deck is especially important for the multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) consisting of healthcare professionals from various fields and specialties who work together to address patient care and influence positive patient outcomes. The level of interactivity and collaboration required for successful functioning within MDTs calls for and benefits from complete and consistent adoption of digital transformation efforts. So how can you get all of your internal staff on board when adopting new digital technologies in healthcare? In this article, we’ll go over three strategies to achieve employee buy-in for your innovative healthcare digital transformation projects.

1. Communicate with Staff

It sounds deceptively simple, but too many businesses fail to achieve it: communication with staff on the front lines is key to pull off a successful digital transformation. According to another McKinsey study, companies whose executives and managers “communicated openly and across the organization about the transformation’s progress and success” were eight times more likely to succeed in their initiatives.

Of course, “communication” can mean many things, including:

  • Showing progress on the transformation’s primary objectives.
  • Executives and managers visibly showing their commitment to the initiative.
  • Offering consistent access to information on the project.
  • Making clear, demonstrable changes to staff members’ day-to-day work.

For example, suppose you want to install a new digital healthcare platform that will make it easier for MDTs to access patient data — from medical images to pathology reports. Team members will be more likely to adopt the platform if they see buy-in from leaders and if they get regular updates on how the project is progressing.

Communication is also a two-way street. Employees who don’t feel heard or valued are far less likely to dedicate themselves to the transformation’s success. Every member in an MDT has been selected for their unique perspective and expertise — so take their feedback seriously and incorporate it when feasible.

2. Choose the Right Metrics

To develop on the theme of communication and setting objectives, digital transformation projects have often failed because the leadership didn’t have a clear goal in mind. Sometimes, a new technology is introduced for the sole reason being that it’s “cool” or because executives want to make progress for progress’s sake. Without knowing what it is within your organization you want to improve, how can you hope to judge the success or failure of your digital transformation initiative?

Successful healthcare digital transformation projects select the appropriate metrics and KPIs (key performance indicators) well before they kick off an initiative. If your goal is to improve the patient experience or the quality of care, for example, you need to dig deeper into how you plan to quantify these objectives. Will you distribute surveys to patients to measure their satisfaction or calculate the time they spent waiting for a healthcare professional?

Having these measures in hand, and tracking them throughout the project, will make it easier to demonstrate the value of these new tools or technologies to your staff. With these metrics firmly defined, it’s also easier to celebrate milestones and achievements, so that your staff can see regular reminders of how their work is supporting the organization as a whole.

3. Offer Training and Education

After weeks, months, or years preparing for the rollout of a new technology, you need to make sure that the project doesn’t fizzle out in the launch and post-launch phases. Training and education programs for new technologies are key in order to win over employees who may be skeptical or indifferent about changes to their daily workflow.

Here are a few tips and best practices for training and education programs during digital transformation:

  • Training and education programs should take into account employees’ levels of technical skill and familiarity with new concepts, providing important definitions when necessary.
  • Introducing new tools or methodologies gradually, or on a piecemeal basis, will help avoid overwhelming staff members with too much information at once.
  • On-demand training programs are best for employees who want to learn and proceed at their own pace.
  • Whenever possible, courses should be personalized or tailored to specific teams and departments, so that employees can better grasp how these changes will benefit them in particular.

Final Thoughts

By following the best practices for employee buy-in above, healthcare organizations can make their next digital transformation project dramatically more likely to succeed.

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