Most people would agree that the two components of successful innovation are a problem worth solving and a solution that solves that problem. But in reality, there is actually a third component that without it, even the best of solutions to the biggest of problems are dead in the water.
We’re talking about buy-in. Without support from the people who are actually going to be using the new innovations, development and deployment are near impossible. And the more complex the innovation, the higher the resistance to change may be. But many of these more complex innovations, especially in the healthcare space, have an attached list of benefits so compelling that it’s worth working hard to secure the needed buy-in.
Things like predictive analytics, data-driven clinical decision-making solutions, and artificial intelligence (AI) tools can save lives, increase patient quality of life, drive cost savings, and boost efficiencies. With those benefits in mind, how do we go about building a healthcare culture that’s open and supportive of the introduction of new technology? Technology leaders in a recent Net Health webinar shared their experiences and recommendations to tackle this challenge.
Push vs. Pull
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to push innovation within an organization. While some level of championing the change is helpful, what’s more effective is leading the charge by fostering an environment where teams are excited to help pull the new technology onto the front lines. Instead of building a solution and then taking it to the team, start by engaging with staff to see what they need. This leads to a much more intimate understanding of the problem, which leads to a more targeted and effective solution. Not only is a better solution going to help with buy-in, but including staff in the process means leadership has less pushing to do thanks to the frontline pull.
What this all means is there will need to be infrastructure changes. Leadership will have to create and grow a cultural organizational initiative to facilitate the lines of communication and new processes.
Locally Changed Management
As we briefly mentioned, localizing the process to include frontline staff not only helps to drive buy-in, but it’s also critical to the development of these new tools. Without a clinical champion facilitating access to patients, the clinic, or data, it becomes near impossible to test, tweak, and develop solutions. At best without this, the new technology would need to be created and tested in a vacuum, which may or may not translate well to the real world. And if clinicians know that the solution hasn’t been road-tested, buy-in and trust get a lot harder to capture.
Innovation at its core is localized change management. The time to secure the localized support is well before any sourcing or development begin.
Fall In Love With the Problem
A recurring trend through the discussion we’ve outlined here is that approaches need to be problem-focused first. You fall in love with a problem; you don’t fall in love with the solution. It’s imperative to understand the root of the problem and every nook and cranny as deeply as possible because this is where the most transformative innovations come from. An approach of, “I am going to understand what everyone else has missed. I’m going to see what everyone else has missed,” is the ideal attitude.
What does this do for buy-in? A lot. First, it shows the team that you’re asking to trust the new technology that you care. Second, it inevitably produces a better solution that people are more excited about. If the new technology requires a lot of retraining but only offers small incremental improvements or comes packed with features that don’t really address the root of people’s problems, buy-in will be an uphill climb. But if you’re truly expending the time and resources needed to genuinely understand the problem before you start sourcing or building, the pull will be a lot stronger than the push needs to be.
Modern Healthcare Innovation Leaders
How Top Health Systems Plan and Execute Innovation