By Doug Arthur, Vice President Adoption Services Mainstay
Investing in new technology in healthcare has been proven to improve patient care, lower costs, and increase staff retention. But that’s true only when you ensure that the new technology is actually used.
This begs the question: What’s the key to technology adoption in healthcare?
The first step is to view the investment not only as a technology transformation but as a transformation of people and processes. You need to make sure the technology works, but you also need to inspire and delight all the different users – nurses, doctors, administrators, and patients – with a balanced and effective implementation plan.
Start by avoiding the common pitfalls that often stall technology adoption in Healthcare:
1. Poor user experience
2. User desire not identified
3. Users not engaged early
4. Sponsors not actively participating
5. IT infrastructure does not adequately support the application
First impressions are everything
Technology deployments usually fail because of poor user experience. When users are not impressed the first time they use the solution, they rarely give it a second try. In a recent engagement with a large hospital in Texas, for example, we found that staff were reluctant to use the new solution because of a disappointing first experience. Sure, the technology worked as designed, but IT failed to anticipate the special needs of their non-technical user communities.
That’s why it's important to take the time to understand how users view new technology and communicate with them from the end-user perspective. As one CIO told us, we had to “go meet our users where they’re at.” Above all, make sure users are delighted the very first time they interact with the new solution.
User change barriers typically outweigh new tech excitement
Don’t leave it up to employees to figure out the new technology on their own. Staff are usually too busy – and frankly not tech-curious enough – to change their own behavior. IT must help them along. Be sure to spend time showing users how they benefit directly from the new technology.
Be sure to engage employees in the process. With a recent client, for example, hospital executives and training staffs helped identify the use cases for a new tech initiative, becoming invested in the process and how it helps them solve pressing business needs.
Communicate early and often
No one likes change happening at them. They want to be part of the change. That’s why you should involve those affected by new technology early in the process and communicate regularly. The messaging can be as simple as letting the users know what is happening and when – and identifying power users and soliciting their opinions.
Building champions early helps ensure a successful deployment. It also helps bridge the demographic gap. For example, at a recent conference, a hospital executive said their biggest technology adoption challenge was the friction between older and younger nurses. Bringing the two groups together for open discussions helped put everybody on a common path.
Leadership is critical to adoption
Executives always like to back winning ideas, so getting widespread support on an unproven technology project can be difficult. That’s why it’s important to develop a plan to activate executive sponsorship as the deployment gains traction.
At a large healthcare provider in California, for example, the IT team strategized how to engage the CEO’s staff. At the end of the implementation, not only did the executives support the project, but they participated in activities where they could actively demonstrate their support. Ultimately the CEO claimed the whole project was their idea!
Application experiences are only as good as the underlying infrastructure enables
Finally, make sure the IT infrastructure is engineered to support all uses of the application. Too often we see clients scale back on their technology deployment just because of limited network or infrastructure capabilities. Issues such as latency, spotty access, and poor security architecture can seriously impact users and their ability to see value from the solution.
You can help ensure the success of the project through systematic testing, phased deployment, and robust communication planning to make that first encounter of your solution a truly rewarding experience. One other thing: don’t sacrifice key solution features and functionality just to speed your rollout or meet budget constraints. This can significantly hurt the adoption of your technology solution.
Learn more about how Mainstay can help you adopt healthcare technology solutions at https://www.mainstaycompany.com/adoption-services/.