Fear of Change and the on-call Schedule

Fear of Change (Part 1 of 2)

You have taken a long-term, multi-faceted approach to manage your change-over to on-call software and a new scheduling process. You have allocated the time, resources, and commitment to do this. Why then why, six months later, has the new implementation ended up in the trash pile with other initiatives that failed in the past?

Fear of Change

Doctors aren’t’ unique about being afraid of change, they just express it in different ways and can be more vocal about it since they are more co-owners than employees. Recognize and allow for these common sources of resistance for better “stickiness” for your on-call scheduling project.

1.) Loss of Control. Change interferes with a sense of autonomy and loss of control over their “turf”. Independent Providers especially have a strong sense of self-determination, and it is one of the first things “threatened” when change is imposed from without. Enlist the “complainers” and invite them early into the process to give them a sense of ownership. They may have some valuable and unique ideas since their perspective has not been tainted by “group think.”

2.) Uncertainty. “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know”. People, in general, need a sense of safety and certainly-of-process with clear, simple steps and timetables. Providers especially have plenty of other things on their mind without adding one more thing to “track.” The on-call schedule is extremely important to them, their family, and their sanity, so any process change could be an uncomfortable back-of-mind sensation. A “this first, then that second” approach will help keep change manageable, incremental, and always moving forward.

3.) No Surprises! Faced with a sudden, imposed decision, it’s easier to say NO than to say YES. Ask for opinions on smaller items and seek input regarding them early rather than craft changes in secret and announce them all at once. When coupled with a tight deadline, the response to “Surprise” maybe aggressive push-back or a simmering resentment. Neither is what you want.

4.) Too Much Difference. Being creatures of habit, routines make anyone more efficient. Changing too much at once is distracting and confusing. Focus on changing the important things first, and allow a reasonable amount of time for adoption. Avoid change for the sake of change!

5.) Loss of Face. Physicians are used to being the go-to people and leaders in their own right. In fact, one of them may have “invented” the last on-call scheduling process being used, and may feel defensive if the change implies they were “wrong”. Honor those elements of the past process that worked, but make it clear the change to using an on-line process is needed.

(Continue to part 2)

Key takeaway:

On-call implementation planning needs to include more than the cut-and-dried process and timeline to accomplish tasks. The people-factor can have a big impact on the success of your project!

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