As a digital health startup transforming behavioral healthcare with voice-based AI insights, our Eleos Health team has witnessed and executed many technology implementations. We find that disseminating new technology is more than just installing a new system and providing a training session. It requires a holistic approach that uses change management to create a cultural shift towards curiosity and understanding of the new technology.
It is not uncommon when we talk with leaders in behavioral health that they are most concerned about engaging clinicians when introducing new technology. Most often lack of engagement is related to prior experiences with poor technology implementations but there are other factors as well. Research suggests that clinician resistance to new technology is a result of feeling powerless and perceived dissatisfaction with the new technology. Powerlessness is related to loss of control over workflows and a perceived lack of autonomy. Perceived dissatisfaction is the belief that the new technology will not result in better outcomes whether that is improving productivity, making a task easier, or improving client care.
Based on our experience and the research, our Eleos Health team identified five best practices for implementing new technology.
- Involve clinicians from the get-go – Any new technology purchase should involve the individuals using the technology every day. They understand the ins and outs of daily practice and can identify challenges or issues that leadership may miss. The inclusion of the end-user from the beginning removes the element of surprise when implementing the new solution and helps to maintain clinician autonomy. Organizations can include clinician voices in the process by holding listening sessions to understand current challenges and developing focus groups to test potential technology. One organization that Eleos Health worked with even brought the technology implementation to their client advisory board to ensure that the clients could weigh in on how they would be impacted.
- Partner with your vendor for a smooth implementation – Technology implementations are rarely successful when one party takes on the burden of the implementation. Vendors do not have in-depth insight into the nuances of your organization’s culture. At the same time, providers do not have the knowledge to fully understand all steps in the implementation process. Working together and both sides being honest about their strengths and weaknesses will allow for a strong plan and execution. Organizations should ask the vendor about how other organizations managed the implementation process and if the vendor has specific bullet points or language around the roll-out to share with staff.
- Provide a clear “what is in it for them” and address concerns with empathy – Internal communications for technology implementation should specifically address the benefits of using the technology by the end-user. It is essential to be able to tell clinicians “what is in it for them.” Make sure to provide clinician testimonials and if possible, ask the vendor to bring in a clinician who has used the technology to share their experience. Framing the roll-out in these terms fosters engagement and demonstrates that clinician needs were taken into account. Even if you frame the roll-out in terms of benefits, there are likely to be staff concerns and questions. Clinicians have various levels of technology acceptance and skills which results in different experiences with implementations. Concerns should be addressed with empathy in a thoughtful, honest manner to alleviate the fear of change.
- Train on the right topics including how to use the new technology in daily practice -Too often training on a new technology implementation is centered on how to log in, what buttons to push, where different information is located, and what to do if you encounter a problem. Almost more important is training staff on how to use the technology in everyday practice to make decisions. The Eleos Health platform, for example, provides metrics associated with the effectiveness of a session, such as the talk time of the therapist versus the client and the extent of validations and reflections during the session. Clinicians can use the data to determine if they need to adjust their therapy delivery.
- Celebrate the high and acknowledge the lows – Finally, organizations should work to celebrate the ongoing implementation of the technology to ensure clinician engagement. This can take the form of small events, emails sharing user successes, or a leaderboard that shows who is using the technology the most. We’ve found that short video clips which feature staff and their successes with the technology are most impactful. Organizations should also be honest about things that go wrong and share how they are going to solve the problem. Acknowledging problems can go a long way in gaining trust.
Technology implementations are never easy, but organizations that actively include change management as part of the implementation are better prepared to engage clinicians and make a successful cultural shift.