Why Is Change So Hard In Healthcare?

Storify on ChangeThe IHI 24th Annual Forum was held this week in Orlando, and while I personally wasn’t able to make this year’s meeting, I was able to follow the conference through Twitter streams #IHI24Forum and #smIHI. As I await the release of the keynote addresses to the IHI website, the beauty of social media has allowed me to glean some highlights through the tweets of attendees. Thanks to all who added substance to the ~1.3 million IHI impressions on Twitter over the course of the week.

Of particular interest, was Dan Heath’s keynote on change. Heath, who co-authored best-sellers such as  Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard and Made to Stick, has studied and written on why change is challenging, but also provides suggestions on how to make it happen. The image, On Change, links to a Storify aggregation of tweets highlighting his talk, as well as others discussing change at IHI. IHI’s email summary of Heath’s talk also provided key takeways:

Comparing the emotional and rational systems of the human brain, Heath offered guidance on how to impact change and reinforced the point that data alone is not sufficient to initiate change —- emotion is much more powerful. He urged attendees to tap into the emotional side of change as they lead improvement efforts in health care, and reminded all that failure in the process of change should not stop us in our efforts to lead improvement.

And, finally–please share your thoughts on healthcare change in the poll at the end of this post!

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3 Comments on “Why Is Change So Hard In Healthcare?”

  1. Resistance to change in healthcare is normal. It is a function of our comfort zone in a situation where lives are at stake.

    It doesn’t take much effort to step out of your comfort zone to try a new restaurant.

    In health care your comfort zone for a how to treat a particular diagnosis is honed in years of medical training and reinforced by people getting sick or dying if you step outside the comfort zone of “the way you treat this disease/problem”. This is a rigid walled comfort zone that you don’t step out of easily EVEN IF someone tells you they have research that says there is a better way.

    Bottom line change is slow and difficult due to fear
    FEAR
    Based on the comfort zone rigidity of the long training process and the stakes of the “Game”.

    My two cents,

    Dike
    Dike Drummond MD
    TheHappyMD (dot) com

    • Tracy Granzyk MS says:

      Dike,
      Thanks so much for your comment! Of the 9 ppl who voted so far, 3 chose fear and 3 chose lack of leadership support. I agree that fear holds people back from change that could improve circumstances across many domains. What have you found works to “feel the fear and do it anyway” in healthcare? Other high risk industries, including many leading healthcare organizations have been able to make change for the better–how can we help assure others to take that same leap of faith?
      Thanks again for your two cents!
      Tracy

  2. I have just voted for the list above. I think that fear is the main reason why change is so hard in healthcare. For me, people are afraid of changing something usual and habitual. Well, it is just my personal idea. Anyway, this is nice post, thanks a lot for the valuable information!


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