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With healthcare security, think beyond installing technology

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With healthcare security breaches on the rise and stolen health records becoming even more valuable on the black market, it’s easy to race towards the latest technology to protect your organization.

Is it moving to a secure cloud solution? Shifting to paperless? Installing direct messaging capabilities?

A very common challenge in healthcare is the misconception that spending money on new technology will improve security, workflows and operational effectiveness. In reality, the key to staying ahead in today’s world of heightened risk and complicated compliance requirements is to go beyond mere technology installation.

While safeguarding your organization with technology is important, you should place equal weight on both installation and implementation. A successful Organizational Change Management plan will help you promote adoption across the healthcare enterprise. There are several phases to consider when devising your implementation strategy.

Analyze on a departmental level
Hospitals and health systems tend to be siloed, making information management and security complex. Each department accesses information differently and for distinct purposes. Familiarize yourself with each department’s unique needs and challenges as it relates to data capture and information management. Whether it’s back office financial data or critical patient data, understanding information flow not only helps you identify the best technologies, but also lays the foundation for important policies and procedures related to keeping those documents – and patient information – secure.

Once you have determined which technology best addresses your security needs, think through how the enhancements will impact each department. Before you introduce new technology to your organization, the following initial questions should be asked:

  • What vulnerabilities does this technology address?
  • Who will use the technology and where?
  • What current processes will this change affect?
  • How will this impede or improve workflows?

Bring all your stakeholders together
The most successful Organizational Change Management programs begin by bringing key stakeholders together for early buy-in. Set a meeting with stakeholders from each department in your healthcare enterprise, either individually or as a group, to make technology integration a collaborative process. Discuss together which holes exist in each department and identify the best governance structure to support your IT investments and close those gaps. Equally important, discuss how the new technology will affect the day-to-day experience for each department’s people. With everyone on the same page, you can create a plan to introduce the technology in a targeted way that takes all facets of the organization into account.

Communicate personal benefits and the big picture
It’s important to focus on the end user benefits as well as the high-level security improvements for the organization. For example, if you decide to install pool printing, or “follow me” printing, you will reduce output security risk by avoiding abandoned trays. However, healthcare employees are often very resistant to this change because it requires them to visit the device before printing begins. When introducing the new technology, focus on the real world context and time saving benefits. Ask your nurses, “How many times have you walked up to a device and the content you printed is not there?” The new technology saves time by avoiding reprints, while also protecting against HIPAA violation for unattended documents.

Make training accessible
Many healthcare professionals view new technology as a burden. It requires time and energy to learn how to operate different devices and software. After you’ve communicated the individual and group benefits of the technology, the next step is to make it accessible. Create training sessions specific to each department and how they will use the technology, offer several opportunities for participation and follow up with consistent messaging related to the tool enhancements. Checking the box with one half-hour training class at launch will not create a sustainable change in habit and use. It’s common to see hospitals that switched to paperless more than a decade ago still using more paper than most. Ongoing communications and training refreshers will help you ensure the technology is used consistently and correctly.

Measure and assess
When it comes to information security technology, the stakes are too high to assume new tools will be used properly by your employees. Measure adoption rates across your healthcare organization so you can tangibly see and report improvements to information security. Make a list of the top three items you can easily track in order to identify where gaps in use are occurring. This could include setting a regular meeting with your department heads. Staying on top of your implementation plan and keeping stakeholders engaged with ongoing reports and updates will help you fulfill both short-term and long-term adoption goals.

Choosing the right technology for your healthcare organization is just one step towards improved security. Without the appropriate framework, communications and training, your employees may not understand what to do with new tools or how to follow new policies. Partnering with Change Management consultants can take your organization beyond installation, focusing on the best communication and implementation strategies to improve adoption – and security – across the healthcare enterprise.

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