Have you ever felt overwhelmed with the state of your practice and although you know that change is necessary, you have no idea where to begin? I often hear, “Our practice is so busy, and we have changes that must be made to report successful results to CMS for MIPS. Our team is already incredibly busy, and I have no idea where to begin. Change is so difficult.”
Change in and of itself is extremely challenging for a whole host of reasons. As with any difficult endeavor, you need to follow a process to successfully implement change. Implement is the key word here, because anyone can suggest changes. The real challenge is whether you are able to make and keep those changes.
There are several key components involved in successfully implementing a policy change in your practice. First, you need to clearly define the change. When defining the change, it is important to recognize how it will affect members of your practice. More than likely, it will affect each member in a slightly different way.
Next, you will need to generate sponsorship. In other words, you will need to garner support from healthcare providers and anyone else higher up in the practice; these individuals will need to practice the new process so they can lead by example and reinforce it at every opportunity.
Once you have the support you need, it will be time to identify the impact of the policy change on various areas in the practice. Share the anticipated change with your staff and give them the opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions about its implications. This will uncover any resistance that you may need to address. It may also generate ideas for making the change management process work more smoothly.
The most important component of successfully implementing change is communication. It is imperative to keep all of the affected team members “in the know” throughout the implementation of the new process. The more they know, the more you will earn their support and minimize any resistance. If the desired change will affect patients, the community, your referring healthcare providers, or anyone else outside of the office, it will be important to communicate details of the change with them, and inform them of what to expect. How will it affect their day-to-day interactions? Will they need to do something in a different manner than they did before? What is the timing of the change? What are the key points that you would like to stress during this change? Be certain to communicate these aspects strategically and consistently.
For example, if you plan to transition from billing for copays after patient appointments to collecting copays when patient appointments are booked, you will need to anticipate how these changes will affect various areas of your practice. A change such as this requires appropriate training for any staff members who will be taking on new responsibilities. It also requires effective communication strategies to inform your patients of this change in policy.
Finally, it is important to reinforce the importance of policy changes with everyone involved. Observe your staff to see if they are still practicing the old policy. What are the consequences of continuing to follow former procedures and not making the necessary changes? Alternatively, what is the reinforcement for applying the new behaviors that are supportive of the change?
Although change can be overwhelming and challenging, it is unavoidable in the ever-evolving field of healthcare. However, if you are able to apply these strategies to implementing change in your practice, you can achieve success.