Implementing Change in the Lab

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Vol. 14 • Issue 5 • Page 22

So, you jumped through all the necessary hoops to get approval for a new point-of-care (POC) glucose system with connectivity. You did the cost savings analysis, the SWOT analysis, the “push-pull” analysis and you made the graphs and pie charts that show the savings and benefits to the laboratory and your organization. You met and talked with the COO, the CNO, the CFO, the controller and the director of purchasing. You have “buy in” from your staff and the nursing staff. So, now what?

Now you have to connect before you have connectivity; you have to implement change.The hardest thing to do in any organization is to enact change, thus certain steps must be taken to ease the process.

Engage the Players

The first step to connecting before connectivity is to engage as many of the key players within your organization as possible. You need to have a meeting-a think tank, if you will. Take ownership of the process and set up a brief, informal meeting to gather ideas and start the ball rolling. For your first meeting, you need to invite a wide array of stakeholders. At the very least, invite the following members from your organization:

• POC coordinator
• Chemistry supervisor
• Send-out and client services person
• Nursing staff from the OR, ER and ICU floors, Pediatrics, Outpatient and any other significant nursing area within your organization
• Representatives from IS, IT, finance and senior staff.

As you plan your meeting and invite your guests, tell them to bring any stakeholders that you have forgotten to invite. No one knows their work area and its operational flow better than the people who work there. This system is crossing over into lots of departments, each with its own way of doing things. The key is to let other departments help you fit the connectivity pieces together.

Set this initial meeting at least four to six months before you want to implement the POC connectivity. You need to give everyone time to get used to the idea of change. You need to get everyone to “buy in” to the changes that are coming.

Getting the Ball Rolling

On the day of your initial meeting, have your invited guests introduce themselves and tell you what their role is within the organization. It’s amazing how you see all of these people and never know their names or what they do. Have a loose agenda set to help get the ball rolling and to keep the ideas and the dialogue flowing. Talk about the “next steps” needed to go forward. Assure your guests that the project, and the funding for the project, has senior staff approval. Ask open-ended questions to keep the dialogue moving, such as “What timeline works best for implementation into your areas? When do you think the IS/IT department can have the facility wired by?” and so forth.

Give the group some homework. Tell those that are getting connectivity that they need to identify at least two secure areas for meter and connectivity placement. Tell them that you need to share the perspective site areas with the IS/IT people.

Following Up

Keep the meeting short and sweet. There is nothing worse than a long, drawn out meeting. A short, 30-minute process, complete with snacks, will have a very positive effect on the implementation process. Conclude the meeting by thanking all of your guests and by giving them your direct extension. Tell them that if they have any questions or if they have forgotten any key data, they can call you anytime. The last thing you need to do is ask your guests if you can call them.

Tell attendees of the meeting that you would like to set up times to meet with them in their work areas to see the connectivity sites that they have been asked to identify. This shows your guests that you are interested in how your department plans fit into there department’s flow. This is a key piece to the process. By visiting each clinical area that is going to get connectivity, you are showing an interest in making the transition to connectivity work.

In addition, ask your guests if they would like you to attend one of their staff meetings to explain the process and the changes that are going to occur. Most people hate change because they don’t understand it. Make it your mission to ensure that everyone who is going to use the new POC system understands its importance to their department and to the organization. Make sure that they are comfortable with the changes before they occur.

Moving Forward

As the project progresses, keep the key stakeholders informed by sending them periodic e-mails. Conclude your e-mails by asking if anyone needs help with his or her implementation process. You don’t want the project to get bogged down, yet you are only as fast as your weakest project link. As the project administrator and laboratory leader, it is your job to keep the process moving forward. Don’t forget to do something for yourself. Include progress reports and the departments you are working with in your periodic reports.

A Positive Approach

Last and most important, keep your personal feelings and frustrations out of the project. The quickest way to have a project come to a screeching halt is to offend a stakeholder. Instead, managers should try to keep the project moving by using some humor and by showing that you are always open and receptive to questions. Address any resistance by using positive reinforcement and levity. This approach works much better than trying to strong-arm someone into moving forward. A kind and gentle approach will go a long way to ensure that you connect before connectivity.

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About Author

Don Newton, MS, MT

Don Newton, MS, MT is laboratory director, HEALTHSOUTH, Braintree, MA.

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