Handling Stubborn Resistance to Change in Health IT

Last week I attended the two-day Texas HIMSS Regional Conference in downtown Dallas. The event was well attended with approximately 600 attendees and 45 exhibitors – including your friendly, Texas-based health data interoperability vendor, Corepoint Health.

Rob Brull and I attended several interesting educational sessions during the conference that we wanted to share. Rob is recapping “Healthcare Transformation Led by the CMIO 2.0” and “Creating and Sustaining Innovation.” I’ll cover “Healthcare and Government” and this post on how to effectively lead and implement major health IT changes.

On day one of the conference, Cindy Margules, IS Director, Governance & PMO at Baylor Scott & White Health, spoke on “Handling Stubborn Resistance to Change,” a particularly important topic for health IT professionals. This was the first presentation I have seen from a true product management professional and I have to admit I was impressed with many concepts.

Here are my top notes from the session:

If you don’t work at introspection you won’t realize how you look to others you are trying to lead.

Do you pander to get buy in? Do you come on too strong and put others on the defense when you interact with them? Are you letting the stresses of the situation get the better of you? If you haven’t taken a look in the mirror lately, you should do so soon, because everyone else will be looking to you for guidance, and no one wants to follow someone without a clear vision and others’ interests at heart.

Excellent leadership requires excellent communication.

Know what you want to accomplish and how to clearly describe the roadmap according to everyone else’s point of view. Know how the changes will impact each and every department.

Have you documented what success looks like? Putting that to paper and making that your “elevator pitch” helps get buy in.

Get feedback from everyone who may be impacted by that change.

Getting extra feedback from everyone involved means extra work, but doing so increases your chances of success, Margules said. “When you encounter stubborn resistance, don’t avoid it. Go look for it and address it or it will hit you at the worst possible time,” she said.

Change leaders need to “mine conflict.” They need to go out and ask others “Where are you opposed to this plan?” People react better when they are orchestrators of the change as opposed to being told they must change.

Metrics: Measure and record the change.

Metrics means stats. Take a baseline measurement of what you hope to improve before, during the change, and after the change is in place so you can see progress.

Read additional reviews from the Texas HIMSS Regional conference.