Change Management: 8 Keys to Success


This statement resonates within every organization, across all types of industries. But it’s especially true in healthcare – where the rate of change has been unprecedented in recent years.

Whether these organizational changes are fueled by advancements in technology, new regulatory requirements, a global pandemic, or the need to remain competitive in today’s complex healthcare environment, hospitals and health systems are operating in a near-constant state of change.

From an operational standpoint, healthcare organizations invest a massive amount of time, money, and effort into the technical execution of each change – from implementing new EHR systems to integrating the latest telehealth solutions. But in the midst of preparing for a seamless go-live, it can be easy to forget the human element. That’s where change management comes in.


Change management is the process of managing the human component of organizational change. This is done by preparing individuals and teams to implement a change and offering the support they need during the transition.

In healthcare, it’s especially important to consider change management as part of your overall project plan. That’s because employees across hospitals and health systems need to implement major changes while still providing the best possible care to patients and their families. And poor implementation or adoption can drastically reduce the ROI of your entire project – resulting in disappointing outcomes, delayed timelines, and higher budgets.


At its core, change management involves far more than just developing a communications plan. A successful launch requires ownership and engagement from the C-suite down to entry-level staff.

To help you better understand the role change management should play in a successful launch, here are 8 keys to successful change management in healthcare.

  1. Start with ‘why.’ At the foundation of your change management strategy, you need to clearly articulate the reason why a change is being made. And make sure the explanation communicates the end-benefit for each stakeholder: What’s in it for me?

    All too often, mid-level managers may explain that a change is being made “because we have to.” Not only does this rationale garner a collective eye roll from everyone involved, but it’s no way to get people invested in a successful transition.

  2. Get leadership engagement. For change management to be successful, your organization’s CEO and executive team not only need to be engaged in the process – they need to demonstrate buy-in in visible ways.

    This step requires honest, open communication with your staff. Leaders need to acknowledge that change is hard. But they also need to prove that they’re ready to provide support when needed.


  3. Understand stakeholder needs. In healthcare, a single project can have dozens of stakeholders – from doctors and nurses to IT and administrative support staff. To increase the chances of your project’s success, you need to understand the unique needs of each audience. Work to learn their biggest challenges and obstacles. Then, develop a specific change management plan just for them.

  4. Involve your influencers. Job titles carry influence, to a certain extent. But your organization has plenty of influencers outside the C-suite. Do your homework to learn who the most influential people are across your organization. Then engage them in your change management plan.

    By empowering people that naturally have an audience to assist you in the change management process, you can create strong champions that have the internal clout to get things done.

  5. Work your plan. In any change management process, there are tons of variables and moving pieces. To keep your project organized and on schedule, you should always develop a thorough plan.

    A best practice for change management is to incorporate it as part of the overall project plan. This allows for a seamless, integrated approach to combine technical execution with critical training and communication elements. To help develop and execute your plan, you may want to consider additional tools and resources available from companies like Kotter and Prosci.

  6. Develop a feedback mechanism. During the change management process, it’s important to get constant feedback from key stakeholders. To accomplish this, develop multiple channels for staff and leadership to ask questions and share their perspective on how things are going – before, during, and after your go-live date. Asking for feedback is a great way to identify and address potential problems before they derail your project.

  7. Stay flexible. Project plans are important. But just because you developed a plan doesn’t mean you should push through if it isn’t working. Remember to remain flexible during the change management process. And don’t be afraid to adapt your plan as you go.

  8. Celebrate your success. In a fast-paced healthcare environment, it can seem like the end of one project marks the start of the next. Avoid the temptation to quickly move on to the next big thing. Instead, take a moment to celebrate your wins. Successfully implementing large-scale projects takes a lot of work from a lot of people. So be sure to celebrate those wins with your team.

How you implement these best practices for change management will look slightly different in every healthcare organization. But the goal is the same: Giving your people the tools and information they need to successfully navigate change – and meet your organization’s goals.

If you could benefit from some additional change management expertise during your next project, HealthNET can help. Contact us to learn how you can partner with a change management expert to prepare for a successful go-live.

Blog Post Author:

Terri Hibbert, MBA, Change Management Practitioner

Terri Hibbert is an accomplished Change Manager who has helped numerous healthcare organizations ensure the adoption of new technologies and workflow processes. She has developed operational readiness strategies, communication plans and tactics to support Change Management at large health systems and academic medical centers across the nation, and past clients include Tufts Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Colorado, and Centura Health. She is Prosci Change Management certified and has a passion for weaving Change Management into project plans at all of her client sites.

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