How Radiology Leaders Can Deal with Change Management


Radiology leadership in a meetingIf your radiology department had a dollar for every article that starts, “The healthcare industry is changing,” your budget would be taken care of for at least a year.

It’s impossible to talk about modern healthcare without talking about the major transitions underway throughout the industry. Whether it’s internal initiatives for value-based care or enterprise imaging, or external change agents like MACRA and MIPS, the healthcare industry is undeniably changing (add another dollar to the pile).

What’s more, imaging is at the epicenter of the majority of these changes. It makes sense: Imaging is a substantial part of healthcare, with 70-75% of patients requiring imaging services. Data management is also a central part of evolving healthcare technology, and most of that data comes from imaging.

Given all of the above, radiology leaders must be prepared to shepherd their department — and on some level, the whole organization — through the coming changes. Here are five ways radiology leaders can promote healthy change management.

1. Accept that Change Is Happening

The first step, naturally, is to acknowledge and internalize that yes, healthcare is changing and needs to change. Ignoring that reality in hopes it will go away is like turning your back on the ocean. The waves will roll in regardless, but your organization will be tumbling under them instead of surfing on top.

It’s important to take time to learn what changes are in the works and how other organizations are preparing. Read up on how to support an enterprise imaging initiative and how to transition to value-based care. The more informed you are, the better equipped you will be to lead your team.

 2. Think from Your Team’s Perspective

When faced with massive organizational change, it can be hard to think at both the macro and micro level. But it’s important to understand that your team is likely not thinking of the big picture. They are more likely to be nervous about what these changes will mean in their day-to-day operations.

Take time to think about what the change will look like for the radiologists in your department. They’re thinking, “how will this affect me?” and will look to you for answers. It may be helpful to start a dialog so team members can discuss their concerns. If you allow these concerns to be expressed openly in a judgment-free environment, you can overcome hesitation and replace it with enthusiasm.

Once your team has been heard, make them a part of the process. Keep them up-to-date on what’s happening in upper management and what it means for the team.

 3. Be Proactive in Communication

Communicating with your team is part of the puzzle. But to be effective in that communication, it’s necessary to reach out to the rest of the health system. Don’t wait for management to make decisions and passively relate them to the team.

Reach out to other departments and to those further up the hierarchy. Even before you’re ready to offer expertise or weigh in on decisions, open the lines of communication and reinforce relationships. Enterprise imaging and value-based care transitions rely on more open lines of communication; it makes sense to lay the groundwork ahead of time.

 4. Commit to a Change in Worldview

A crucial part of effectively weathering — and benefitting from — change is to take a holistic view of what’s happening. Keep the end goal of the changes in mind. It’s easy to start thinking of the transition as a series of discrete policy and procedure changes. For example, “We’re adopting new coding standards,” or “We’re switching from order-based to encounter-based imaging.”

If your department becomes too focused on each increment of change, it’s easy to lose sight of the overall “why,” which can foster resentment and resistance. Make sure each step is connected to the big picture: “We’re adopting new coding standards because it will enable image sharing across departments as part of our enterprise imaging initiative. Once we achieve full enterprise imaging, we’ll be more efficient and effective in providing patient care.”

5. Lead the Way

The biggest changes in healthcare right now revolve around imaging and the sharing of data. The goal is to enable traditionally non-imaging departments to easily access and create data objects that can be associated with a patient’s medical history. Your radiology department has years of experience managing data. So, it’s crucial to take a leadership and advisory role in managing change throughout the health system.

The previous four points can position you to help steer the entire organization through change. First, you accept that change is coming and educate yourself on what needs to be done and how to do it. Then, you consider your team’s perspective, communicate with them, and open lines of communication to the rest of the enterprise. With knowledge and proactive communication, you can get a feel for the big picture and share that vision with others.

Again, the healthcare industry is changing (have another dollar). It’s up to radiology leaders to be agents of productive change, both internally and in the organization. You already have the expertise and experience. With a willingness to listen and learn, and an eye to the big picture, you will be fully equipped to lead.

To learn how Change Healthcare can help you with change management in your organization, contact us today.

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