Three Tips for Health Care System Redesign

Health care systems are always changing and evolving in response to shifts in customer needs and the environment in which care is offered. Sometimes a system can keep pace by making incremental changes and improvements; however, sometimes the changes needed can be major enough that a full system redesign is the best option. Southcentral Foundation’s system redesign has greatly improved quality of care, and SCF has sustained these improvements for almost two decades. Following are three tips for system redesign that SCF used to support the system transformation that established the Nuka System of Care:

Engage the Community

Any change to the system should begin with the community it serves. Find out what they want to see from the system and work to engage them, building support for change. Make sure there are multiple avenues available to them to give feedback, and actively seek it out, both as part of care delivery and outside it. When preparing for redesign, SCF solicited feedback from customer-owners not only in clinics, but also at community events, gatherings, etc. Don’t assume that customers will always provide feedback unsolicited; work to engage them and collect it at every opportunity.

Ask employees for feedback to make the transition easier for them

When SCF began the process of redesigning health care services, and changes were communicated to providers and other employees, SCF simultaneously sought feedback from employees on how they wanted to be supported during the system redesign. SCF’s leadership worked to create a safe environment for employees to give this feedback, and worked to provide what they asked for throughout the process. You may be surprised at how much difference even honoring small requests can make for employee morale. It is also important that this be done concurrently with explaining the changes; if you wait too long, employees may feel like their input is not valued.

Leadership should be highly visible throughout the process of change

It is important not only for leadership to work to support customers and employees as much as possible during the system redesign, but also for customers and employees to see them doing so, so they understand that leadership is going through the same process they are. During SCF’s system transformation, members of SCF leadership regularly visited the clinics to check in, see how things were progressing, and get feedback from customers and employees to see the redesign from their point of view. On one occasion, the Vice President of Medical Services even brought ice cream to the clinics on a hot summer day!

Large-scale systemic change is difficult, but following these principles can make it easier for an organization. For more information about SCF’s system transformation, contact the SCF Learning Institute today!