7 Ways to improve employees’ technology adoption

The same cycle is playing out over and over again at hospitals and healthcare organizations across the country. An email from a senior executive is sent to employees describing a new technology solution that will soon be implemented across the business, bringing numerous benefits to the entire organization.

Employees are to be "excited" about all the improvements coming their way, and told that many of their current frustrations will be alleviated. The email assures employees that a team of experts will be on hand to roll-out the new solution, and six months from now the entire workforce will be happily utilizing it.

Six months later...

Successful adoption has been limited and the solution is now associated with other failed initiatives. A new timeline has been established, or the program has been terminated entirely. Business continues as it had before, but employees and other stakeholders are perhaps a bit more distrustful and jaded. What went wrong?

The implementation of any new technology solution requires much more than the technology itself. In healthcare, this is even more true. The complex structure of stakeholders in healthcare organizations - including hospitals, health systems, clinics, insurance companies and more - necessitates careful attention to the process of implementation and adoption. Additionally, healthcare organizations face a complicated web of existing platforms that often integrate with external systems, in addition to the intense focus on regulatory and compliance measures that must be followed. Perhaps most importantly, the healthcare consumer (the patient) plays a sensitive and vital role in the process.

To meet these challenges, healthcare organizations seeking technological innovation must have a comprehensive and thoughtful approach to implementation of any new solution. Strong project management and planning is important, but there's more to it than that. In my experience managing this process, there are seven proven strategies that should be considered when embarking upon any new technology initiative:

1. Align with the broader operational structure of the organization.
From the beginning, align the new solution so that it fits the bigger picture. When devising your integration strategy, devise ways to marry or link the new solution to existing platforms, processes and operations. The more seamless and connected the solution is with the existing operating model, the higher the adoption rate will ultimately be.

2. Identify and engage "Ambassadors" from all impacted functional areas.
Long before you go far and wide with the introduction of a new solution, identify an "ambassador" from every functional area that will be affected by the change. These ambassadors can meet regularly before, during and after the rollout to discuss possible challenges and issues with the implementation. They can also be a trusted and familiar face inside each functional area that can promote the adoption of the solution. Conversely, Ambassadors should have the forum to promote the needs of the functional areas back to the Executive and Implementation team.

3. Define success, and use that definition as the "North Star" of the program.
Before you select a new solution, determine 3-5 metrics to define what successful implementation will look like, and make sure they tie back to your overall ROI. Incorporate those metrics into your communications - broadly, clearly and continually. These metrics will guide the scope of all your activities during implementation, and give you something concrete to report back to employees. If an activity or requirement does not tie back to your metrics, then don't do it.

4. Use data, not anecdotes, to "sell" the solution.
In your communications and throughout the implementation process, prioritize quantitative data as your primary selling point for the solution. Use data to objectively describe to resistant stakeholders why a particular approach is being taken or to counter their anecdotes about the perceived reality of a situation.

5. Designate a rapid response manager.
Expect crises, challenges and barriers to appear throughout implementation - and prepare for them in advance. At the outset, identify a project team member to serve as a rapid response manager - the person responsible for managing these issues when they arise. As the broader project team encounters resistance and problems, they can funnel the requests to the designated rapid response manager, who can then work to obtain an answer or solution. Addressing issues quickly strengthens the reputation of your project team, leadership and organization.

6. Be transparent.
Your employees and stakeholders want to hear from you - not just when things are going well, but also when they're going poorly. Share the good, the bad and the ugly. When you're communicating about challenges, always pair the challenge with the proposed resolution and next steps. Transparent communication can occur through meetings or forums with open Q&A sessions, or through a regular e-newsletter update featuring answers to common questions and concerns.

7. Keep momentum past "go-live."
A common mistake is thinking that once the "go-live" date arrives, the hard work is done. In fact, this is the moment when effort should intensify to ensure that employees and stakeholders are using the platform, issues are addressed and results are communicated. Use data analytics to determine whether users are adopting the tool accurately and appropriately, and highlight the non-compliant areas for further action. Even months after the initial "go-live," the project team should still be checking in to make sure everything is running smoothly.

Technology is only one component of implementing a new solution across a healthcare organization. By giving careful thought to a broad and deep strategy for rollouts, teams can greatly increase the likelihood of successful adoption by all employees and key stakeholders. And successful adoption means better engagement, controlled costs and strong organizational credibility to take on the next challenge or innovation.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.​

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