by Angela Courtney | Management consultant specializing in healthcare based in Nashville | Author of Change the World, Change Your Life.
If you’re like most individuals in the US, the daily headlines about our healthcare system can become overwhelming. That’s particularly true for those of us working in the eye of the storm in the healthcare industry.
Will key healthcare programs will be funded? Will the Affordable Care Act be repealed, replaced, or reformed? Will blockchain revolutionize healthcare or end up being mere hype and hope?
These headlines don’t just scroll across our screens — they impact our careers and everyday lives. It can be tempting to sit on the sidelines until the constant storm of seismic change calms down. Yet what our country and healthcare systems need now more than ever is for individuals to stay informed of what’s going on around them, think about the community implications, and act as a catalyst for positive change.
Catalysts do what they can where they already are, regardless of how large or small the impact might be.
As an example, I’m a management consultant serving significant clients in the healthcare industry. I can choose to take a moderate risk by recommending that a client test implementing telemedicine solutions to improve the quality of care and reduce costs over time. Or, I can decide to play it safe, not rock the boat, and stay quiet. Does speaking up always result in quick changes? No. But it can spark the conversation and generate an opportunity to help them consider this further. That’s what catalysts do. They stay informed, think innovatively, and act to accelerate positive change.
At the same time, all of us are healthcare consumers in one way or another. On a daily basis we have the ability to choose to exercise and eat healthy foods or not. All of these decisions are within our sole control. When aggregated, our decisions to lead a healthy lifestyle can influence others to do the same and result in a healthier, more informed population.
If your natural tendency is to resist uncertainty and sit on the sidelines, the upside is that the ability to catalyze change is a muscle that can grow stronger with use. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but becoming a change catalyst is not complex.
Anyone can be a change catalyst by:
1. Inspiring Creativity
Change catalysts know that innovation requires a shift in thinking. Yesterday’s status quo in the healthcare industry is no longer. This is particularly the case given regulatory and payor shifts in reimbursement mechanisms, payment models, and quality requirements. Those who are willing to think creatively and encourage their companies and others to do so also will find new ways to generate profitable income and provide better healthcare to patients.
2. Taking Small Risks
Change catalysts take calculated, strategic risks in situations where they can afford to fail. In practice, this looks like recommending that a business run a single test case as opposed to a more costly, longer term pilot. Even though the intent of healthcare pilot programs is to assess a potential solution in an affordable way, they can easily end up costing millions of dollars. Change catalysts grasp that they can do a low-risk litmus test in a micro-market before advocating for a large-scale change in a higher risk setting. This increases their chance of success and ability to be seen as a thoughtful change leader.
3. Giving Themselves Permission to Fail
Failure is inevitable for anyone, even the brightest thought leaders. However, the difference between change catalysts and resisters is that the catalysts give themselves permission and margin to fail. The resisters are afraid of the prospect of imperfection and failure. The unfortunate fallout is that they don’t take a chance on reasonable growth opportunities that could lead to significant value to their companies and healthcare consumers.
4. Asking ‘How Can We Make This Work?’
When dealing with a client executive or employee who consistently brings up all possible reasons why an initiative will not be successful, I turn the tables and ask ‘How can we make this work?’. Instantly the conversation shifts away from the trepidation of failure and into the realm of possibilities. This helps lead to innovative thinking that drives positive change.
To be sure, championing change amidst the uncertainty of our healthcare climate can be challenging. However, the alternative is worse. Companies and individuals that stick with the status quo are likely to fall behind the innovation curve and have a difficult time catching up. Competitive advantages can be eroded along with market share. However, change catalysts provide realistic hope amidst the headlines. They have the ability to navigate and lead our healthcare system to a more stable, effective,