By Jacob Lippa and Elizabeth Olson
In an often overlooked sidebar to their 2013 Harvard Business Review Article, The Strategy That Will Fix Health Care, Michael Porter and Tom Lee write, “Provider organizations understand that, without a change to their model of doing business, they can only hope to be the last iceberg that melts.” The quote illustrates a new reality in business: we have entered an era of volatility, turbulence, and economic uncertainty.
Survival in this era depends on agility and adaptability, yet these are not characteristics often associated with provider organizations, which have historically dug in and held their ground in the face of change. Myriad reasons exist for their defensive stance, but one is certainly that change is difficult. In fact, according to Peter Tollman and his colleagues at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), 50 percent of change programs fail. That number rises to 75 percent for more complex and ambitious initiatives.
So how do provider organizations successfully adapt to a changing health care environment, in which they will increasingly compete on value? To start, they would be wise to take a page from Getting Smart About Change Management, in which Tollman describes four fatal errors that doom change programs. The root cause, however, he identifies as the failure to make the change rational for individual employees. “No matter what the change program aims to do,” he writes, “it must first and foremost secure the buy-in of the workforce. For that to happen, all employees need to see that supporting the program is feasible and in their individual best interest.”
These words are likely to resonate with anyone who has attempted to implement a value strategy in their hospital or health system. Writing in NEJM Catalyst about his experience at Partners HealthCare, for example, Dr. Neil Wagle concludes that engaging clinicians requires that the change program, in this case adopting the use of patient-reported outcomes, improve both the quality and efficiency of care delivery. Dr. Puneet Seth, writing on the InputHealth Blog last year, reached a similar conclusion.
Their findings lend additional support to a change management approach called “Smart Simplicity,” which first and foremost recognizes an organization as a system of individual behaviors. In a forthcoming paper, Tollman applies Smart Simplicity to health care, citing a number of real-world examples from his work at BCG. This paper will also form the basis for his closing keynote on day one of the 2017 ICHOM Conference, tentatively titled “Value-Based Health Care’s Behavioral Challenge.”
For more information on Peter Tollman and Smart Simplicity, please explore the links below. To register for the 2017 ICHOM Conference, please click here.