Quality Care

Change Management Lessons Learned from Higher Education

Health IT students learning about change management

Change is hard. Data shows that 70% of change initiatives end in failure and this has remained consistent over the years.

But, we also know that one of the best ways to make change work is ensuring that stakeholders at all levels are part of the process. In higher education, this means everyone from the students to the dean is involved in change management. And for healthcare, new staff just out of school all the way to the chief medical officer.

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I recently participated in an exchange about change management with students and professionals in the healthcare industry. Since change happens in every industry, including higher education, these students shared they are gaining deep insights into leading change while in school that, once in the real world, they can apply to their work in healthcare.

How Can the Health IT Industry Learn Change Management from Higher Education?

You may wonder how healthcare and higher education are similar. Consider these questions:

How will these industries continue to change and innovate to provide better services and outcomes?
Will changes and innovation in these industries increase satisfaction?
How will these industries increase engagement?
What disruptive innovation will lead to industry improvement?

Like healthcare, higher education is changing at a rate so significant, it is often referred to when discussing disruptive change. There are several causes of the change, including costs, decreased funding and a lack of innovation. In other words, is the cost worth the value of having a college degree?

Even campuses themselves are changing. Addressing the needs and wants of three to four different generations of students means creating learning environments with spaces that can adjust to different learning styles with communal spaces for collaboration.

One way higher education is using change management to adapt to the needs of the student population is to implement an education-to-employment mindset with interactive, real-world experiences built directly into the curriculum.

Preparing Students to be Change Management Leaders

Research indicates designing curriculum for future employment is not only what students want, but what employers need. About 60% of students want on-the-job training woven into their academic experience. The goal for students is a smooth transition to the workforce, while employers want recent graduates prepared to perform soon after being hired.

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For example, in organizational behavior courses, students are exposed to strategies that can be used for leading change: identify resistance to change, implement processes for transformation and develop models to lead change. These critical concepts are taught to students during their academic experiences so they can then be applied to their work in the real world.

Another way to ensure change management concepts are appropriately taught is for academic institutions to partner with industry advisory boards. Board members are often comprised of industry experts who can lend their expertise to course design and develop meaningful opportunities for students to demonstrate concepts learned.

Students also gain first-hand exposure to these change management trends by participating in professional organizations. This not only provides value in conceptualizing how program content works in real life, but allows students to interact with other professionals and leaders. These interactions help students hone their skills through networking, conversing with industry leaders from multiple disciplines, and showcasing their knowledge and abilities, both professionally and academically.

Higher education institutions need to prepare students to be leaders in change. Providing content in the curriculum to help students adapt to change prepares students to implement the innovation needed in the healthcare industry to help improve patient outcomes.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.

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