Mr Richard Buabeng-The Writer

By Richard Buabeng

Managing change is about handling the complexity of the process. It is about evaluating, planning and implementing operations, tactics and strategies and making sure that the change is worthwhile and relevant. Managing change is a complex, dynamic and challenging process. It is never a choice between technological or people-oriented solutions but a combination of all (Al-Abri, 2007).

Health care is an area that is seeing fast pace changes. These changes are challenging the status quo at all levels of the health care industry evidenced by the application of Systems Thinking in Health leadership and governance as well as technological advancements. For example, robots in surgery, Nanomedicine, electronic health record, mobile Health, Telemedicine/telehealth, Portal technology, Self-service kiosks, Remote monitoring tools, Sensors and wearable technology, Wireless communication and many more. Changes in health care over the years has been rapid which has not given health managers the chance to make adequate plan and preparation. Most importantly, managing change can be very daunting and tasking than the change itself. These changes become unsustainable due to failure by senior managers to provide vision and commitment, ensure integration with other systems, and poor implementation of plan and strategies. For sustainability, healthcare managers must understand the key issues surrounding change management and have a better framework for thinking about change.

Moreover, promoting change is tiring and fatiguing (Al-Abri, 2007). A manager must understand the need to persevere and endure the challenge against the status quo of habits and norms of establish organisational behaviour. The manager must also be very clear in her/his mind by focusing on the values that matter to promoting change rather than reacting to every window for change that opens.

Bureaucracy is a limitation to organisations with large professional and high performing and staff. Steiner stated that organisations that are known to be bureaucratised and hierarchical are less flexible, less amenable to change and less likely to empower staff.  Such organisation will not benefit much from employees who are only to do what they are told. This can restrict and be an obstacle for the nurturing of innovative ideas for necessary organisational change. It is argued that there is no “one best way” to manage change in an organisation, and that public sector organisations need to introduce an approach to organisation change which matches their requirements and situation (Coram and Burnes, 2001).

In addition, leaders need to understand the change process and issues that are involved with it in order to have the capability to lead and manage change and improve efforts effectively. (Davies eta al, 2000) Managers must show leadership through building “new” organisational structures and shared vision that focuses on promoting efficient work output of employees, teams and stakeholders as well as applying a Systems Thinking approach in solving issues and challenges arising from these and other processes for sustainable change. Inspired and informed leadership is a key essential to be a successful organisation.

Thus, establishing a clear vision about the direction of the change process is another key element for assuring successful change (Klunk, 1997). Measuring and monitoring outcomes of the change process is essential for recognising whether or not the change process has fulfilled its purposes (Leatt et al, 1997). 

In conclusion, positive change is non-negotiable in many industries especially in the health care. These changes have come with many issues that has challenged their existence and survival. In view of this, it is important that healthcare organisations upgrade the knowledge of health staff for them to be abreast with “new” innovations, technologies and regulations through trainings and further studies. Changes are needed in healthcare so long as they promote sustainability, improve quality, safety and affordability of health services. Successful implementation of these strategies, techniques and leadership during the change management process would lead to productivity for all stakeholders and thus fulfils the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 1, 3 and 8 (No Poverty, Good Health, and Decent Work and Economic Growth respectively).

Richard Buabeng is a Mental Nurse @ Ghana Health Service Municipal Health Directorate, Nkawkaw.