Organizational Change Ultimately a People Issue

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Karen Utterback By Karen Utterback 
Former Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, McKesson (Retired)
Organizational Change Ultimately a People Issue

Georgia Hockenjos, RN, BSN, MBA, compares the feelings that people dealing with organizational changes go through to the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

“I’ve worked with people in every stage,” says Hockenjos, vice president at Aleckna and Associates, a consulting firm that works with agencies on home care software selection, implementation and process re-alignment. “Patient care delivery hasn’t changed (in the last 20 years), but everything else has!”

Hockenjos and John Aleckna, BA, MBA, were featured speakers during the recent McKesson Home Health & Hospice Executive Summit, presenting on the topic “Managing in an Electronic World.”

Learning a new skill is a challenge for many people, but leaders must stress the importance of learning those skills during software implementation, providing extra support if necessary. Aleckna, CEO and managing partner, says that a clinician frustrated by a new electronic documentation may resort to paper backups or rush through as assessment to just tick the boxes. Both can lead to serious errors that could compromise patient care and/or reimbursement.

But Hockenjos says that creating well-defined operational processes that employees understand and follow becomes more critical with technology. The transparency of data that agency and clinical management software brings means that the same data collected by one department is used by another, so the ripples caused by any errors or omissions in one area could swamp another department.

Agencies should competency-test for every process, Hockenjos advises. They should monitor processes carefully, watching out for those who are not following directions because they misunderstood what was required, perhaps, or are choosing to do things differently.

“Holding people accountable is very difficult,” Hockenjos says. “We test software, but not processes. The consistency of processes equals high levels of efficiency and quality; it reduces chaos; and it makes everyone feel better.”

Next: The importance of accountability

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