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Organizational Change Plan – Part III, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Introduction and Summary

Improving access to healthcare across many communities is limited by existing practices and trends in social, political, and economic drivers. It is necessary to identify these drivers and the barriers that prohibit effective access to healthcare services, including social status and related concerns. Healthcare organizations must adapt to social and political change in an effort to optimize the quality of care and treatment that is provided to patients, in addition to the ability to expand access to these services in communities where the need is greatest. The creation of an environment that embraces change must recognize where existing weaknesses prevail in order to accomplish the desired objectives and the means to accomplish new directives to expand healthcare access to organizational change. Organizational priorities must change in order to effectively address these concerns and to promote progress within an organization to effectively meet the needs of local residents. Therefore, strategic change is necessary to enable the organization to adapt and to promote expanded access to basic healthcare services. The following discussion will address these strategic requirements in greater detail and will emphasize the importance of specific mandates to improve healthcare access and to promote change to achieve greater organizational success and quality of care for a larger number of patients.

Body

Since it is natural for many employees to resist organizational change, this tendency must be addressed as early as possible in the change effort to improve the chances of success with the chosen strategy.  Therefore, an organization often requires a unique cultural shift towards change and the acceptance of new guiding principles to take the organization in a new direction. Once a strategy is chosen, it should be implemented on a gradual basis to allow employees to acclimate to the change effort prior to rollout of the change to the general public. One of the key factors to consider is employee and organizational preparedness, which should reflect the ability to identify existing obstacles and minimize them in favor of promoting high quality patient care for complex health concerns (Gagnon et.al, 2011). Healthcare organizations face their own set of critical challenges that are difficult to measure and overcome without an organized and receptive effort from employees and leaders to changes as required (Gagnon et.al, 2011). Therefore, it is important to identify specific barriers that prohibit employees from embracing change, even if it will improve patient care access and quality (Gagnon et.al, 2011). Therefore, the chosen strategy must encompass what is known as knowledge translation, whereby “the quality improvement process should be built on planned and scientifically informed knowledge translation (KT) interventions ensuring that the knowledge users are aware of, have access to, and can use the research evidence to inform their practices” (Gagnon et.al, 2011, p. 2). Under these conditions, it is likely that the organization will succeed in its efforts to provide its employees with sufficient knowledge to perform their duties in an effective manner (Gagnon et.al, 2011).

Organizational readiness must be effectively achieved prior to change implementation in order to achieve the desired objectives with the change effort itself (Weiner, 2009). It is expected that an organization will be impacted by the identification of the problems warranting change, the change effort itself, and the ability to overcome specific obstacles that limit change readiness (Weiner, 2009). These efforts must provide employees with a basis for examining their roles in the change itself and how they will contribute to the new strategy (Weiner, 2009). From this perspective, as they begin to embrace the change, employees will develop a psychological fondness for the change that will enable them to be effective in their roles with the change strategy (Weiner, 2009). In addition, it is expected that this practice will provide greater support of the change initiative to ensure that the organization will be prepared for change, particularly when it is mandated by outside forces (Weiner, 2009). An example is the changes that are required to accommodate the mandates set forth by the Affordable Care Act and how these will impact healthcare operations and access to healthcare services. It is the responsibility of employees and leaders to accept these changes and to implement them through a shift in strategic direction to comply with these mandates and to provide greater access to healthcare services for those persons who might be currently uninsured.

It is necessary to develop a greater understanding of the obstacles that are present in accommodating healthcare reform. These efforts reflect a capacity to develop new ideas and perspectives that will require employees to fully participate in these efforts and to take the steps that are required to accomplish the required objectives. Throughout healthcare organizations, strategic change to accommodate reform is difficult to accept and to manage in many instances, thereby creating an environment that will support strategic change as best as possible. In particular, nurses must identify with and embrace change because their roles as direct caregivers to patients are likely to shift to accommodate the changes in progress (Buerhaus et.al, 2012). However, nurses are not always prepared to manage the challenges associated with healthcare reform and the mandates imposed on organizations in this regard (Buerhaus et.al, 2012).

Creative approaches to change are required to accommodate the objectives set forth by healthcare reform and its impact on access to healthcare services. To be specific, “Policy makers view health insurance coverage as an assistive measure that helps individuals and families to gain timely access to medical care that protects them from the risk of expensive unanticipated medical events that could impair their quality of life” (Kaplan and Inguanzo, 2010-2011, p. 85). Under these circumstances, it should be noted that the ability to effectively produce the desired healthcare outcomes through change and reform efforts must also demonstrate the impact of different ideas and perspectives and their role in healthcare outcomes (Kaplan and Inguanzo, 2010-2011). Employees and leaders of healthcare organizations must identify areas where access is limited and need is greatest so that local community members will benefit from these practices in the desired manner (Kaplan and Inguanzo, 2010-2011).

The anticipated benefits of strategic change in healthcare organizations are often not realized for a long period of time. Therefore, it is not surprising that some employees and leaders are highly resistant to change because they are unsure what will happen to their roles and responsibilities over the long term. Access to healthcare is a complex phenomenon that is largely impacted by organizational practices, and when these practices are disrupted for any reason, it is likely that there will be strong resistance to change that is very difficult to overcome. Therefore, it is important to identify the limitations that exist with respect to healthcare practices and identify areas where change is likely to benefit organizations, employees, and patients in a positive manner.

The ability to implement change in a healthcare organization also requires a strong degree of patience, understanding, and knowledge in regards to the challenges that organizations face in improving access and promoting a higher level quality of services. Unfortunately, change is difficult because the general nature of healthcare is not only complex, but it is also inequitable in many ways (Starfield, 2011). Patients do not receive equal access to healthcare services and are generally unable to access these services if they do not have insurance and have a tendency to fall into a specific socioeconomic status (Starfield, 2011). It is known that “Inequity is built into health systems – especially western health systems that are based on a view of health needs disease-by disease. Therefore, the benefits of primary care, which is person- and population- rather than disease-focused, are underappreciated” (Starfield, 2011, p. 2). These conditions reflect the necessity to develop strategies that will not only accommodate the changes required across healthcare, but also achieve them in a manner that will achieve greater outcomes for patients in the form of preventative services rather than solely dependent upon disease-based frameworks (Starfield, 2011). This issue should serve as a primary focus for organizations seeking to promote change and achieve long-term effectiveness with the change effort.

A variety of strategies have been used in recent years to promote organizational change in healthcare organizations as a means of expanding access and improving overall performance (Parmelli et.al, 2011). In this context it is observed that organizations must reflect upon their ability to initiate change by allowing employees to acclimate to the change effort, which typically requires a shift in the organizational culture (Parmelli et.al, 2011). Therefore, it is important to identify these issues and to take the steps that are necessary to produce desirable results within these organizations (Parmelli et.al, 2011). It is necessary to identify how culture plays a role in acclimating to change because culture may prohibit long-term change from taking place if it is not handled properly (Parmelli et.al, 2011). Most importantly, “the management of organisational culture is increasingly viewed as a necessary part of health system reform” (Parmelli et.al, 2011, p. 2). As a result, it is necessary to identify specific areas where cultural identifiers and expectations may prohibit change from occurring in the desired manner within healthcare organizations (Parmelli et.al, 2011).

Finally, the ability to promote organizational change through healthcare practices requires an effective understanding of the policies and mandates that dictate these changes to begin with. Many examples demonstrate that organizations struggle with improving their quality of care and their ability to accommodate larger numbers of patients. However, lessons learned from prior events may play an important role in shaping improved outcomes for organizations struggling to implement change as required (Ku et.al, 2011). For the uninsured who cannot afford healthcare services or who lack insurance, healthcare organizations must fully commit to their efforts to achieve the desired results with the change effort in order to accomplish expanded delivery (Ku et.al, 2011). Facilities must be prepared to manage the mandates set forth by the government while also considering their role in shaping the organizational culture and taking it in a new direction (Ku et.al, 2011). These efforts will provide greater evidence of the abilities of the organization to accept and embrace change and for its employees to reflect upon their existing practices and the changes that are required to meet demand (Ku et.al, 2011). This combination of factors will likely play an important role in shaping healthcare outcomes and the quality of care that is provided to patients within organizations for the foreseeable future (Ku et.al, 20110.

Conclusion

Organizational change within a healthcare organization requires employees and leaders to be supportive of the change effort and to accept its role in their professional careers. In many instances, government-based mandates play a significant role in the necessity for change and healthcare reform as a means of improving access for millions of Americans who do not have health insurance. Therefore, it is important to identify these concerns and to take the steps that are necessary to obtain support from key stakeholders so that access to healthcare for those in need is effectively accomplished through strategic change. Organizations facing a widespread change effort to improve access must not only accomplish the required mandates, but should also emphasize the importance of employee roles and responsibilities in the change process. With this perspective, it is likely that an organization will achieve greater success in implementing the required changes and will face fewer obstacles over time.

References

Buerhaus, P.I., DesRoches, C., and Applebaum, S. (2012). Are nurses ready for health care reform? A decade of survey research. Nursing Economics, 30(6), 318-329.

Gagnon, M.P., Labarthe, J., Legare, F., Ouimet, M., Estabrooks, C.A., Roch, G., Ghandour, E.K., and Grimshaw, J. (2011). Measuring organizational readiness for knowledge translation in chronic care. Implementation Science, 6(72), 1-10.

Kaplan, M.A., and Inguanzo, M.M. (2010-2011). The social implications of health care reform: reducing access barriers to health care services for uninsured Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States. Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, 23, 83-92.

Ku, L. Jones, E., Shin, P., Byrne, F.R., and Long, S.K. (2011). Safety-net providers after health care reform: lessons from Massachusetts. JAMA Internal Medicine, 171(15), retrieved from http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1105879

Parmelli, E., Flodgren, G., Beyer, F., Ballie, N., Schaafsma, M.E., and Eccles, M.P. (2011). The effectiveness of strategies to change organizational culture to improve healthcare performance: a systematic review. Implementation Science, 6(33), 1-8.

Starfield, B. (2011). The hidden inequity in health care. International Journal for Equity in Health, 10(15), 1-3.

Weiner, B.J. (2009). A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implementation Science, 4(67), 1-9.

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