Transformative Change is Required, Especially During a Crisis

Successful change is tough without confident leadership, engagement and buy-in from those who will be responsible for delivering on these changes once they are in place. Every organization is challenged to strike a good balance between “day-to-day” or “lights-on” responsibilities, versus dedicating resources towards successfully establishing new processes or applying new technologies.

Implementing anything new in a safety critical, 24/7 365 operation is especially complex. Successful change in a clinical environment requires ongoing input and engagement from front line care providers, otherwise there is a high likelihood of designing something that does not consider their unique circumstances, and most importantly, a lack of buy-in once the change is in place.

With the strain on health human resources, a leadership decision to divert attention away from clinical care is rife with consequences and strong opposition. Still, it’s never been more important to facilitate change and innovation in Canadian healthcare. How can we do this well when our health systems are so stretched, and clinical burn-out is at an all time high?

Some organizations are asking for volunteers who are no longer feeling joyful at work, to refocus their contribution to a transformational project. Others are seeking out retired employees and physicians to provide clinical insight and advice. While these are excellent ideas, we need to do more. Our health leaders need to delineate where “in system” resources are essential, and make bold decisions when non-traditional talent and solutions can be leveraged. This should involve having health innovators present where decisions are made to brainstorm solutions. And they must be prepared and allowed to take risks. Leading transformational change is more difficult during a crisis, but it is precisely the crisis currently facing the Canadian health system that makes it necessary.

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