At some point in life, you\u2019ve probably felt disrupted by change.\u201cBut this is the way it\u2019s always been.\u201d\u201cThis is the only way we\u2019ve ever done it, and it works.\u201d\u201cIf it\u2019s not broken, why fix it?\u201dProcess improvement plays an integral role in creating a culture of internal innovation \u2013 in healthcare and beyond. The tools needed to drive improved workflows, outcomes and satisfaction inside out are dependent on well thought-out processes. Taking the time to rethink and redesign workflows can turn something that simply works into something that truly transforms.Julie Campbell, director of Innovation Consulting at Healthbox, a HIMSS Innovation Company, has learned this first-hand. She\u2019s spent the last decade consulting with health systems looking to leverage innovation to drive process improvement.\u201cI think the healthcare industry has fallen prey a lot to \u2018this is the way we\u2019ve always done it.\u2019 So any type of change needs to be user-driven. You\u2019re trying to change a process so it\u2019s improving quality care, reducing costs, or whatever the end goal is. But in order to be successful, you need to make that process the easiest decision for the stakeholder to make,\u201d said Campbell.Change management and technology need to work hand-in-hand to drive process improvements that create actionable innovations, she explained. \u201cAt Healthbox, we define \u2018internal innovation\u2019 a little bit differently. We call innovation \u2018invention adopted,\u2019\u201d Campbell said, emphasizing that innovation cannot occur without the adoption piece and the element of sustainability.How Change Management Drives Actionable InnovationProcess changes inevitably mean a major cultural shift. During these times, employees must be willing to adapt and participate in order for the desired changes to occur \u2013 which, in turn, can often lead to resistance.\u201cIf you expect people to change their behavior, you really need that process change first for a complete redesign \u2013 using some type of technology to hardwire that change, and with employee change management on top of it to make sure it is sustainable,\u201d Campbell said. \u201cYou can\u2019t just implement technology and expect people to get on board. That\u2019s why it needs to be accompanied by change management; that type of education is necessary in order to ensure sustainability.\u201d\r\nRELATED: Podcast: Digital Strategy for Healthcare Providers\r\n\u201cDuring HIMSS19, I overheard a statement about how nurses are great at finding \u2018workarounds\u2019 in order to get where they need to go,\u201d Campbell said. \u201cThey are great at figuring out how to do the right thing for the patient in the midst of obstacles, but workarounds have unintended consequences, like reporting inaccuracy or information asymmetry.\u201d The ultimate goal is to design processes that won\u2019t require workarounds \u2013 because they are efficient enough on their own \u2013 and to implement technology that makes it easier to take the right action, Campbell explained. \u201cThat could mean eliminating redundant documentation but ensuring it is pulled in to the right places, building alerts or hard stops into the electronic medical record (EMR), or integrating separate applications that enable evidence-supported decision making.\u201dTo demonstrate this, Campbell talked about a session that she attended at HIMSS19, led by Michael Meyer, MD, physician executive and operating room (OR) leader at Pulse Heart Institute, and Sanjeev Agrawal, president and chief marketing officer of LeanTaas. Dr. Meyer set out to change a long-standing process of using historical information to build OR block utilization. However, this arbitrary process did not effectively solve the issue of low OR utilization resulting from a mismatch of fixed OR supply and variable surgical demand. Instead, the center implemented a new process for booking surgeries that included block utilization as well as an open marketplace model. They also developed new metrics that more accurately measured utilization and encouraged surgeons to release block time when unused. As a result, they implemented a technology that aided in intelligent booking and block release, as well as actionable reporting. It was rolled out so effectively that today it is now considered to be a key factor when recruiting other surgeons.If you\u2019re not observing any resistance, you may want to take a closer look at your culture internally and ensure it is promoting overall transparency, Campbell said.\u201cConsistently, things that require process change will generate resistance, but when you make the process easier for people to follow, you\u2019re able to overcome that resistance more effectively. Of course, that needs to include education, communication, training \u2013 involving stakeholders up front in the design process as well,\u201d Campbell said, citing examples like 30-day check-in meetings and surveys to gauge employee feedback throughout the process.\u201cYou\u2019re unfreezing bad habits and replacing them with new, better habits. It takes a while and a lot of coaching and encouragement to do that, so you need to have the right team not only from a governance perspective, but from a design perspective \u2013 because your governance team could be very different from your working body.\u201d Governance may come from the top, but design must be peer-led.In addition to governance, managing incentives is critical to change management. Rewarding change, whether through recognition, spot awards, or aligning pay to performance, is the last step to ensure sustainability and change champions.Taking a People-Centric ApproachMary Ellen Skeens, recipient of the 2019 SHS\/HIMSS Excellence in Healthcare Management Engineering\/Process Improvement Award, has also dedicated much of her career to process improvement \u2013 such as implementations that involved connecting medical devices to IT solutions in order to aggregate and distribute the relevant data.\u201cTechnology alone cannot usually solve clinical problems,\u201d said Skeens. \u201cThis requires the integration of people, process and technology to effectively solve clinical workflow problems. Sustaining change is the most difficult part of process improvement.\u201d Skeens cited daily management of process behavior charts as one way to track ongoing success of process improvements.\r\nRELATED: Healthcare Innovation: It\u2019s the People\r\n\u201cTypically, the process change is significantly harder than the technology implementation. Unfortunately, more time and effort is often spent on the latter.\u201d This can result in simply automating bad processes, Skeens explained, which limit the solution\u2019s potential impact.Skeens underscored Campbell\u2019s points about the importance of governance and change management during times of transition. \u201cGovernance structures may vary based on specific project, but having a steering committee and identified project sponsor is key. Identifying relevant workstreams and leads for each is another best practice.\u201d Identifying appropriate process measures and leading KPIs is critical for sustaining and improving processes, Skeens emphasized.What\u2019s the most important part of the change management process? Skeens said it\u2019s all about the people, emphasizing that there\u2019s no \u2018one size fits all\u2019 approach. \u201cIt is important to step into their shoes and really understand how they feel about the change. The human element of change is very powerful,\u201d she said.A people-centric approach to governance and incorporating change management strategies into workflow changes will take time, but it\u2019s worth it, Campbell added.\u201cOnce technology is assimilated into the culture \u2013 once people essentially forget that it even exists in post-implementation, that\u2019s when the technology will transform and change healthcare.\u201d And that, of course, is when the real transformation begins.DISCOVER HOW HEALTHBOX IGNITES INNOVATIONHealthbox, a HIMSS Innovation Company, is a healthcare advisory firm that leading organizations trust with innovation and digital strategy development and execution. Healthbox drives innovation from the inside and out, helping organizations build internal innovation programs in addition to assessing the commercial potential of employee-led projects. They also help organization\u2019s look to the market to find solutions to implement or invest in. Healthbox is proud to work with industry leaders who share their passion for building, harnessing, and advancing solutions to empower the reinvention of healthcare.Learn MoreDownload Healthbox reports | Read the Healthbox blogSign Up for Healthbox\u0027s NewsletterGet monthly insights on healthcare innovation in your inbox.