In order for a technology implementation to be successful in healthcare, it must account for socio-adaptive behavior. Too often, high-tech manufacturers only consider the quantitative aspects of problem solving. But industry executives should recognize that technology alone rarely solves the problems reliant on human application. A simple, yet meaningful, approach to doing this is the employment of Situational Leadership®.
Dr. Paul Hersey’s monumental research on leadership perspectives demonstrated that when faced with something new, like a technology implementation, participants’ levels of ability and willingness vary greatly. As a precursor to success, it’s important to understand each participant’s level of Performance Readiness®. This assessment provides influencers with critical information on how to manage a task in a way that builds knowledge, experience and skill in participants, while addressing issues of confidence, commitment and motivation.
At times, industry ignores these elements, leading to immediate or prolonged failure. We‘ve all experienced healthcare investments referred to as “loss leaders” or capital projects that leave executives dissatisfied and users flustered. These missteps are often indicative of implementations that failed to address socio-adaptive learning. Here are three steps, based on Situational Leadership®, that lead to sustainable success.
Step 1 – Clarify the Goal. As a healthcare consultant, I’d asked administrators their goals in establishing a robotic surgery program. In many cases, they’d respond with “improve patient care”, “remain competitive”, “retain/attract physicians”, “offer new services”, etc. The programs that demonstrated the highest performance were often the programs with the clearest set of goals. For example, “Our aim is to have 5 surgeons perform 500 procedures annually, demonstrating a 20% reduction in length of stay on average by procedure.” The clearer the target, the more accurate the shot. A loss leader is not always an indicator of a poor investment, but possibly a sign of vague goals.
Step 2 – Evaluate Performance. Dr. Hersey explored readiness using two critical questions. The first, “is the task currently being performed acceptably” or “is the clinician currently using the technology at a acceptable level?” This question examines ability. The second “is the participant willing, unwilling or insecure about the task?” This question is used to explore willingness. These questions clarify an individual’s Performance Readiness®.
Step 3 – Adapt to the Needs. The evaluation above enables leaders to adapt their approach to the needs of the individual being influenced. It protects a leader from training someone that is not achieving the standard as though they are or from failing to address concerns of anxiety or uncertainty. Many technology failures can be traced to leaders not adapting to the needs of those participating in the implementation.
Situational Leadership® has been used successfully for almost five decades by roughly 400 of Fortune 500 companies to effectively influence people. However, broadening its application to successfully implement healthcare technologies has been overlooked. At Clean Hands – Safe Hands we have used Situational Leadership® to address socio-adaptive concerns. As a result, many customers have doubled their hand hygiene rates, reduced their hospital-acquired infections and found a sustainable way to enhance the patient experience.
If you’d like to explore how our system typically doubles hand hygiene performance rates, here’s a brief video about how it works. Or here’s a white paper on How the New Joint Commission Hand Hygiene Standards Could Impact Your Hospital.