Researcher identifies key factors to ensuring successful strategic change in healthcare systems

Strategic ChangeChange is an important part of the growth and development of any organization to ensure success. As the needs of clientele change and the surrounding environment evolves, so do the needs of the organization. However, there are many elements within an organization that if not met can be the determining factors as to whether or not change will be successful.

Bita Kash, Ph.D., M.B.A., FACHE, associate professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health recently published an article in the Journal of Healthcare Management on the most relevant factors that contribute to successful strategic change implementation in healthcare systems.

In the study, “Success Factors for Strategic Change Initiatives: A Qualitative Study of Healthcare Administrators Perspectives,” Kash and the research team identified various organizational change initiatives that occurred within two major health systems. These initiatives ranged from IT implementation and the integration of a new electronic health record system, to new building projects for on-site development and a cost effectiveness initiative to improve resource management.

Bita Kash, Ph.D., M.B.A., FACHE

Bita Kash, Ph.D., M.B.A., FACHE

“Prior research on organizational change has focused on how strategic change is implemented, how leaders promote organizational change success, and how the culture of the organization affects employee performance,” said Kash. “With this study we wanted to emphasize that change is not a linear process with a clear beginning and an end and that successful organizational change for healthcare systems can be linked to a specific set of factors unique to the healthcare setting.”

Researchers examined various change initiatives through the lens of healthcare administrators who played a significant role in the implementation of those initiatives. Researchers met with various administrators, from hospital CEO’s and assistant directors to physicians who served as chief medical officers or department heads. They then conducted in-depth personal interviews to identify significant changes that had been implemented and what factors most contributed to the success of those changes.

This study identified 10 factors that played pivotal roles in change initiatives across both health systems examined in this study. The most notable of these factors being culture and values, a clear unity in the culture and values of the organization with the individuals within it; business processes, a clear understanding of operational activities and the process required to conduct them successfully; and people and engagement, productive interaction during the hiring and training process as well as continuing engagement to maximize growth and development. Additional factors included effective leadership and communication throughout the organization and access to necessary information.

“Two of the identified success factors are unique to the healthcare sector and not found in the literature on change models. These two are service quality and client satisfaction (including the concept of patient safety) and access to information,” said Kash.

“These results demonstrate the importance of human resources functions, alignment of culture and values with the change initiative, and business processes that facilitate effective communication and access to information to achieve many change initiatives.”

Additional authors include Regents Professor Larry Gamm, Ph.D., director, Center for Health Organization Transformation, Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health; Aaron Spaulding, Ph.D., assistant professor, University of North Florida Brooks College of Health; and Christopher Johnson, Ph.D., director, graduate program in health services administration, University of Washington School of Public Health.

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