The development of a successful approach to improving access to health care and related services requires an effective understanding of the barriers and limitations to these services and how they are impacted by political and social motivations. To be specific, social factors often dictate access to healthcare services across different population groups and create additional challenges in obtaining insurance benefits to afford these services. Therefore, many individuals and families are left without access to healthcare and the benefits that it provides to them, including quality care and treatment to improve health and wellbeing (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Although there has been a significant shift in perspectives regarding healthcare access and the ability to obtain, afford, and retain health insurance, many experts argue against these efforts in favor of other alternatives that might be many years away and not anymore feasible than what is currently in process. Therefore, it is important to identify these limitations and to take the steps that are necessary to reduce existing barriers and to embrace new strategies to improve outcomes within organizations. However, some organizations are resistant to change and therefore, require additional support and time to improve their ability to change and to implement new practices to improve healthcare access (Weiner). The following discussion will address the importance of specific factors that are associated with an organization’s ability to change to accommodate healthcare trends and to determine how to implement specific change initiatives in order to achieve effective outcomes. A proposed change effort will be considered and will examine existing barriers, cultural limitations, practice methods, and other areas that lead to resistance in changing existing processes. Finally, the roles of organizational representatives will also be addressed in order to identify specific areas where change is necessary and instrumental in allowing the change to occur.
A proposed change effort within an organization requires the ability of employees to embrace the change initiative and to allow it to transpire in order to recognize its benefits and impact on the organization and its constituents. In healthcare organizations, these efforts are particularly critical because they reflect a means of examining specific indicators that lead to the resistance to change in the first place: “Blaming resistance is a socially acceptable explanation among managers because ‘everyone knows’ that people resist change. It is also socially functional, providing managers a way to marshal resources and support they might not otherwise be able to obtain. In the context of change, declaring resistance is a call for help, i.e.,
‘I have a problem here’, that elicits attention, empathy, and support from other managers. It is not an admission of ineffectiveness, but a way to excuse oneself from failure, solicit concern and interest, and shift the focus of the problem to those who are resisting” (Ford and Ford 8). Under these circumstances, it is evident that organizations that do not effectively embrace change are less likely to reap the benefits of emerging trends and new approaches to existing problems, thereby leading them to fall behind other organizations in these practices (Ford and Ford 8).
When a proposed change initiative is agreed upon by organizational leaders and will be implemented, it is important to identify the specific areas that will be most affected by the change effort in order to adopt implementation methods that will be effective over time. One area to consider is organizational capacity and the willingness to overcome specific barriers to promote change (Buono and Kerber 9). The level of readiness to change is instrumental in whether or not the change initiative will occur and how it is managed at different levels throughout the organization (Buono and Kerber 10). In this context, “Change capacity, which in essence is a broader concept, requires a much more extensive set of interventions. Such capacity implies a focus on multiple, often iterative and overlapping, changes over time, which is different from the traditional view of change as a series of isolated events” (Buono and Kerber 10). From this perspective, it is necessary for a healthcare organization to recognize that change in healthcare access and insurance coverage are not isolated incidents; rather, they must be addressed in conjunction with significant changes in process and thought as reflected across all departments (Buono and Kerber 10). Healthcare organizations must ultimately recognize their required contributions to the community and how this impacts their overall ability to accept change and to agree on a specific strategy to accomplish the change effort (Buono and Kerber 10).
For a healthcare organization, change is difficult because the daily practices of care and treatment for patients cannot be disrupted. Therefore, sweeping change efforts must be gradually implemented and monitored for any inconsistencies with other practice methods. This will enable the organization to fulfill its objectives while also considering how to improve healthcare access and the quality of care that is provided to patients. Therefore, an effective balance must be achieved to prevent disruption of service to those patients who require care and treatment. At the same time, implementing change efforts must also address other factors that might be viewed as weaknesses in the organizational structure, including the lack of understanding of the scope of the change and why it is required. Healthcare access is a difficult challenge to overcome and requires a strategic approach that will accommodate those that are unable to obtain access to health insurance and treatment as required. Therefore, it is important to identify the specific factors that will improve the ability of an organization to effectively address barriers to healthcare access.
One of the key problems to consider is that organizations attempting to implement change to reduce barriers to healthcare access are faced with issues that are of a socioeconomic nature, including the following: “The institutional/structural racism that exists in hospitals and health care institutions manifests itself in the (1) adoption, administration, and implementation of policies that restrict admission; (2) the closure, relocation or privatization of hospitals that primarily serve the minority community; and (3) the continued transfer of unwanted patients (known as “patient dumping”) by hospitals and institutions. Such practices have a disproportionate effect on racial minorities banishing them to distinctly substandard institutions or to no care at all” (Randall). Under these circumstances, it is important to identify the specific factors that prohibit effective access to healthcare due to racial and economic disparities, thereby creating a vicious cycle that is difficult to overcome (Randall). As a result, it is important for organizations seeking to implement change with respect to healthcare access must recognize these disparities first and foremost in an effort to produce results that will allow greater numbers of people to access healthcare services that are of the highest possible quality and not merely the product of limited staffing and resources (Randall). From this perspective, it is necessary to determine how to best approach these conditions with the intent to overcome or minimize barriers so that there are significant advantages in place to positively impact healthcare services in an effective manner (Randall).
The creation of a change effort within a healthcare organization to accommodate changes in healthcare practice to improve access to services is a significant process that is designed to influence outcomes in a favorable manner. However, the ability to effectively communicate these objectives is a continuous challenge for healthcare organizations due to the political and socioeconomic issues surrounding this practice. Communication within the healthcare field is complex in many ways and requires a greater understanding of the manner in which access to healthcare is changing on a widespread basis throughout the industry, and not just within a single organization (CHSRF 1). It is expected that organizations will focus on different ideas and perspectives by using innovative approaches to accomplish these objectives (CHSRF 1). Therefore, communication must be enhanced and explored in different ways so that there are significant advantages in place to ensure that access to healthcare services is improved (CHSRF 1). Best practice methods must integrate specific factors that will be effective in allowing greater access to healthcare services in organizations where limits on these services have been evident in the past (CHSRF 1). Best practices must reflect a means of exploring new directives and approaches in order to accomplish these objectives in an effective manner (CHSRF 1).
Similar to the barriers that exist with respect to healthcare access, there are specific cultural norms and expectations that often exist which limit progress within organizations (Brander et.al 1). These practices appear to reflect a limited approach to healthcare access that is not well understood; therefore, little change has been evident. As a result, it is necessary to consider the obstacles that exist and how to best overcome these challenges through enhanced communication within the organization to minimize barriers, identify specific cultural constraints, and determine how to best overcome these issues so that barriers to healthcare access are minimized (Brander et.al 1). When communication is improved and expanded, it is likely that there will also be increased partnerships between organizations so that successful outcomes are achieved (Brander et.al 1). Collaborative efforts must be within organizations and should also extend to other groups so that individuals and families who require healthcare access are able to obtain these services without extreme difficulty (Brander et.al 1).
The implementation of a successful change effort within an organization to accommodate improved access to healthcare services requires a greater understanding of these objectives and how they are observed by managers and employees. The ability to access healthcare services is largely grounded in socioeconomic factors; therefore, it is necessary to identify barriers to change and how they impact healthcare services and organizational dynamics in different ways. It is likely that a continuous effort must be achieved to overcome these challenges and to take the steps that are necessary to improve outcomes and to reflect upon methods may be innovative in nature in order to accomplish these tasks. It is expected that when organizations evaluate the socioeconomic conditions that prevail and lead to barriers in obtaining adequate access to healthcare services, change efforts must be identified and established in order to accomplish the desired objectives in a reasonable manner.
When implementing widespread organizational change, it is also necessary to identify the specific areas that require changes to be made and to demonstrate that managers and employees are willing to cooperate with change efforts in order to achieve effective outcomes. Patients must be able to trust in these abilities and to recognize the impact of improved access to healthcare services in an effort to achieve improved health and wellbeing. These practices are important because they reflect a means of exploring new ideas and opportunities to improve communication and to reduce barriers to change within organizations that often prohibit real progress from being made. These alternatives will enable organizations to recognize their limitations and to take the steps that are necessary to expand access to healthcare for all persons.
Brander, Rosemary A., Paterson, Margo, and Chan, Yolande E. “Fostering change in organizational culture using a critical ethnographic approach.” The Qualitative Report, 17.90(2012): 1-27.
Buono, Anthony F., and Kerber, Kenneth W. “Intervention and organizational change: building organizational change capacity.” EBS Review, 27(2010): 9-21.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Health Insurance Coverage.” 18 May 2013: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/hinsure.htm
Canadian Health Services Research Foundation. “Understanding whole systems change in healthcare: the case of emerging evidence-informed nursing service delivery models.” 18 May 2013: http://e3idocs.fmhs.fastmail.net/OGC-REISS-E.pdf
Ford, Jeffrey, D., and Ford, Laurie W. “Stop blaming resistance to change and start using it.” Organizational Dynamics, 39.1(2010); 24-36.
Randall, V. Institutional Racism in US Health Care. 18 May 2013: http://academic.udayton.edu/health/07humanrights/shadow01.htm
Weiner, B. “A theory of organizational readiness for change.” 18 May 2013: http://www.implementationscience.com/content/4/1/67