Talking of technologies and innovation in healthcare leads us to wonder how these technologies are introduced in to the healthcare environment, and the role of the healthcare professionals in the adoption process.
We know that in most industries, including healthcare, innovation comes from the outside. So whom do these external organizations connect with, within the healthcare ecosystem? In hospitals, we understand generally that technologies and new equipment are largely introduced through the hospital administrators, chief physicians and innovation officers. While we recognize that there will be a range of stakeholders involved depending on the type of technology and equipment, this seems quite a heavy top-down approach.
Is there a better way to introduce new technologies and spur change in healthcare? Let’s consider a few other scenarios.
Hypothesis #1: Those who are likely to be using these technologies most on a daily basis such as nurses and technicians have the least say in choosing and implementing these technologies.
Looking to other healthcare providers, for example, clinic practitioners, and how they adopt new technologies, we should first consider the changing dynamics. With increased consumer awareness and understanding in healthcare, we are seeing consumers demanding more specialist care, often going beyond the primary care physician. This changing emphasis of less dependence on the primary care physician can be compared to the stock market, real-estate and, dare we say, the marketing world. The middle man, the primary care physician's role, is being marginalized. So does this mean that the specialists have more sway and involvement in technology adoption and change? Possibly, if there are enough of them, and they all share the same goals.
Hypothesis #2: Specialists have more sway and involvement than the generalists, albeit they have different perspectives on the what, why and how.
Patients, of course, appreciate specialists’ expertise and influence. More medical students want to specialize partly due to the gravitas, the progressive nature and financial potential that specialization provides. So how are educational organizations re-structuring their curriculum to accommodate this changing demand, and how are they infusing new technologies into their curriculum for the specialists and general care that benefits both?
While specialists presumably benefit from more regular access to cutting-edge technologies, breakthrough research techniques, and other perks of specialization, undoubtedly their general practice colleagues would also benefit from this kind of knowledge. The question becomes how to structure the courses to benefit the unique needs of each, while enhancing learning and innovation across the board.
Hypothesis #3: Academia is adding to this top-down decision making approach, by giving greater access to new technology to specialist areas.
As we debate these hypotheses, one thing is clear: these dynamics are not unique to the healthcare industry. And it certainly provokes the questions:
Organizational change should not be taken lightly, and whether it takes place within our own industry or our marketing partners, we can all learn from each other. Empowering multiple levels of the organization through your change journey is critical, with clear communications, trialing and training. And this is the time for us to step up to help lead organizational change, be it internal or external.