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Myndshft Blog

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February 15, 2023

7 Tips for Effective Change Management When Adding Prior Authorization Software to Your EHR

by Susan Lawson-Dawson | Healthcare Technology, Prior Authorization

“Old habits die hard.” Healthcare providers of all types and sizes saw the truth in that saying when EHR adoption began in earnest more than a decade ago. Many organizations struggled to overcome the status quo and embrace new tools and processes. While EHR adoption is in the rear view mirror, ongoing digital transformation has saddled your staff with what feels like never-ending change. It’s exhausting and hard, so when you add yet another change, like prior authorization software, you need to manage it in a way that makes adoption easy. 

Years ago a book by Chip & Dan Heath made me view change in a different light. It remains a go-to source for understanding how to support change,  so in addition to tips, this blog includes some interesting snippets from Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

3 Pieces of the Change Management Puzzle

First a quick analogy used throughout the book: the Rider, the Elephant and the Path. The Rider represents logic. The Elephant represents emotion. And the Path represents the best (not always fastest) route to success. Problems with any of these put change at risk. If the Path isn’t clear, for example, the Rider doesn’t know where to direct the elephant. Even if the Path lies right in front of you, if the Elephant isn’t motivated, no amount of direction from the Rider will move it. The Rider, the Elephant and the Path all require the right information AND inspiration to move with purpose toward the goal. 

Now, let’s dig in. 

Tip #1: Recognize and Address Resistance

Change can be difficult, and you can encounter resistance from individuals or groups. It’s important to identify and address these issues to ensure the change is successful. One way is to counteract resistance by presenting a Path that aims for incremental wins. “If people are facing a daunting task, and their instinct is to avoid it, you’ve got to break down the task. Shrink the change. Make the change small enough that they can’t help but score a victory,” write Chip and Dan Heath. 

By making changes less daunting, such as integrating prior authorization software into your existing EHR, you help to ensure wider adoption. That’s because your staff doesn’t have to change from the status quo too significantly; instead, they need only make minor adjustments to their typical workflow. 

Tip #2: Communicate Clearly 

“Clarity dissolves resistance,” the Heath brothers write. Clear and consistent communication is essential to ensure everyone knows about the changes taking place, why changes are needed, how the changes will impact them, and what to expect as a result of the changes. Your communications need to appeal to both the Rider and the Elephant while setting a clear (achievable) path. 

Think about it this way. 

Your logical Rider will appreciate a checklist. As Chip and Dan Heath point out, “Checklists educate people about what’s best, showing them the ironclad right way to do something.” This eases the pressure on the Rider. 

But your emotional Elephant will need a pep rally, or at least information that earns an emotional buy-in. That way, the Elephant cooperates when the Rider directs it down the Path. With prior authorization software, for instance, you can highlight the benefits of less time wasted waiting on hold or searching for prior authorization requirements so that staff can focus on more fulfilling work.  

Tip #3: Establish Strong Leadership

Effective leaders are essential to drive change and ensure everyone is on board. According to Switch, “A good change leader never thinks, ‘Why are these people acting so badly? They must be bad people.’ A change leader thinks, ‘How can I set up a situation that brings out the good in these people?’ 

And good leaders can come from anywhere. Of course your executive team needs to inspire and motivate their own teams to work together and achieve the desired outcome. But you should not hesitate to identify leaders on the front line. By embedding change champions throughout your teams, you can coach your organization to victory.  

Tip #4: Encourage Engagement and Involvement

Involve all stakeholders, from employees to customers, in the change process. This way, everyone feels heard and invested in the process. This lets you tap into the Elephant. Chip and Dan Heath write, “Motivation comes from feeling—knowledge isn’t enough to motivate change.” 

They explain, “But motivation also comes from confidence. The Elephant has to believe that it’s capable of conquering the change. And there are two routes to building people’s confidence so that they feel “big” relative to their challenge. You can shrink the change or grow your people (or, preferably, both).”  A pilot program, championed by a respected team member, can give your staff a taste of how the change will impact their routine without feeling overwhelming. 

Tip #5: Invest in Training and Development 

Employees need to be trained on new processes and systems, and this should be done in a way that is engaging and interactive. “The old pattern is powerful, so make sure to script the critical moves, because ambiguity is the enemy,” say the Heath brothers. 

Look to your integration partner for prior authorization software to help with this aspect. By complementing your internal training processes with user success content from your software provider, you can keep staff prepared for the Path ahead. 

Tip #6: Stay Agile 

Change management is an iterative process, and you will make adjustments along the way. Flexibility and adaptability are important to ensure that the changes made are sustainable. “What you don’t need to do is anticipate every turn in the road between today and the destination. It’s not that plotting the whole journey is undesirable; it’s that it’s impossible,” say Chip and Dan Heath. 

They explain further: “To think that you can plot a turn-by-turn map to the end, like a leader’s version of Mapquest, is almost certainly hubris. When you’re at the beginning, don’t obsess about the middle, because the middle is going to look different once you get there. Just look for a strong beginning and a strong ending and get moving.” 

Tip #7: Measure (and Share) Results

Collecting and analyzing data before, during, and after the change process can help determine if the desired outcomes have been achieved and if further adjustments are needed. The Heath brothers suggest “pursuing the bright spots” by always evaluating what’s working and how to build on those successes.  

Transformation is rarely simple, especially when long-held processes get updated, but with the right approach you can successfully manage change to achieve the results desired. 

Interested in seeing how a  Myndshft prior authorization software integration removes barriers and enables a simple, seamless workflow?  Let’s talk.