Embracing change in health care

The health care industry has drastically changed over the last ten years and it’s not expected to stop any time soon.

Whether facing changes on how they are reimbursed or implementing new innovative solutions to improve processes or the delivery of care, health care systems must have the necessary tools in place to enact transformation quickly and efficiently.

Change management

For OSF HealthCare, that has included building a culture of change readiness, allowing us to adapt to anything that comes our way.

This requires an understanding of change management principles and of your organization as a whole.

Some key questions to ask yourself before implementing any type of change is: What change are you proposing? Who should lead the change? Who is being asked to change? What is the environment within which you are trying to enact change?

At OSF, we have various environments with different cultures and experiences within our overall organization. For each of those subcultures—we’ve determined we have to take alternative approaches, rely on diverse competencies and consider where push back might come from to be successful.

Then we have to determine what systems must be put in place to support our Mission Partners, reduce resistance and speed up the change itself.

A large part of transforming health care is having a good communication plan in place that explains the need for change, how long it will take, how it will positively impact workflow or patient care and what employees can expect.

Communications need to be specific to particular groups because someone at the leadership level will experience change very differently than someone at the front line.

Dealing with resistance to change

The best way to deal with resistance to change is to prepare for it at any level.

There’s great risk if resistance is at the leadership level because they have a span of control and influence over larger parts of the organization.

At the same time, you also have to focus on those who are on the front lines—who, in some cases, will be impacted the most by changes within a health care system.

Before implementing an innovative solution at OSF HealthCare, we establish who our executive sponsors are at the early stages of the process.

Those designated individuals likely know where the problems are, they are willing to remove barriers to implementation and they will be in charge of successfully spreading a particular solution across our Ministry.

Our executive sponsors understand the organizational strategy and what it will take to achieve that.

As a health care system that’s working to build a culture of innovation, our leadership must have a willingness to sponsor and manage change.


With any meaningful change comes the possibility of failure. However, there’s less chance of a project completely falling apart if you have an implementation plan in place.

Our goal is not to necessarily eliminate failure altogether, but to do it in a way that allows us to quickly try something and move on if it doesn’t work. What we don’t want is for a project to fall apart due to a lack of planning and execution.

As part of the Innovation Partnerships team, we have brought in plenty of great software, technologies and devices that we’ve piloted throughout the Ministry.

If something didn’t work the way we thought it would, it just means that we have learned we shouldn’t waste time trying to scale that particular solution across the organization.

Then we determine what can be taken away from that experience.

What caused the failure? What did we learn from this effort that can be applied to the next innovative project? This allows us to continually be open to change as we improve and transform our health care system for the better.

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