Resistance to Change and Achievement of Quality Healthcare

One of the major concerns that currently impede the achievement of quality healthcare in the 21st century is the resistance to change. Although scholars have identified a range of problems and barriers to attainment of excellence in care, literature shows that many organizations in the healthcare sector frequently try to maintain the status quo when efforts are made to alter it. Often healthcare professionals view change as a threat to their security, as change upsets established patterns of behavior. The change of established behavior is particularly challenging because of the complexity of relationships between various organizations, professionals, caregivers, and patients. It is important to note that change triggers several group emotions that pervade an entire healthcare team, causing a group counteraction in resistance to the proposed change. These effects exist in a majority of healthcare systems that use poorly planned implementation approaches that do not consider all significant variables in change management such as the emotions of those affected by the change, potential deleterious effects of such emotions, and the pragmatic approaches for managing negative sentiments. The process of implementing change also adds on to the challenge as some new policies can take a considerable amount of time to implement. Thus, healthcare professionals should acknowledge impediments to change and develop counteractive measures as well as explore various ways that can facilitate the attainment of quality healthcare in future.

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            Factors that  promote resistance to change include habits, conservatism, complacency, fear of disorganization, perceived loss of power, insecurity, set patterns of response to change, perceived loss of current or meaningful personal relationships, ego involvement, and perceived lack of rewards. People are afraid of change because of lack of knowledge, prejudices resulting from a lifetime of personal experience and exposure to others, and fear of the need for greater effort or a higher degree of difficulty (Roussel, 2006). People have developed fears, biases, and social inhibitions from the cultural environment in which they live. Since they cannot be separated from these cultural factors, it is necessary to find ways of managing them within a system. Barriers to change include a perception of implied criticism. Most people hold a perception that the implementation of change is because the implementers do not like what the people in that system are doing (Roussel, 2006). Employees perceive that machines and systems are replacing them or making their jobs less interesting. For example, a programmed system could be used by patients to take their own nursing histories; Change may demand the investment of a great deal of time and effort in relearning. If nurses are to be independent practitioners, what happens to those who are not prepared? Probably the greatest single personal barrier is that individuals do not understand or refuse to accept the reasons for the change or the need for it (Roussel, 2006). Unfortunately, it is not always easy to equate the reasons and the needs and to communicate them in meaningful and compelling language. Healthcare professionals are part of a social system and will resists change if alters that social system. In fact, social changes invoke more resistance than technical changes (Roussel, 2006). Other causes of change include pace and time of implementation owing to the fact that different generations of healthcare providers have different rates of change.

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            In order to counter resistance to change and facilitate the attainment of quality, healthcare professionals and leaders need to comprehend how to handle the complexity of the process. They ought to evaluate, plan, and implement operations, strategies and tactics, as well as make sure that the change is relevant and worthwhile. The overall guiding principle is that change is a dynamic, complex, and challenging process and is never a choice between people or technology-oriented solutions, but rather a combination of all. Effective change involves unfreezing old behavioral patterns, introducing new behaviors, re-freezing them. As a rule, change can either be sporadic, occasional, continuous, or rare. Predictable change can allow healthcare systems to reserve enough time for preparation, while unpredictable change can subject systems to challenges, disabling them to respond effectively. Fortunately, many changes in the healthcare sector are predicable because they occur rapidly, and this means that facilities can prepare adequately before the implementation process.

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            Perhaps one of the superior and sustainable competitive advantages in the 21st century is the ability to change, evolve, and adapt to quality techniques of providing care. In fact, academics continue to associate rates of failure to a range of factors that include limited integration with other processes and systems in the organizations, lack of commitment and vision from senior management, and ill-conceived implementation plans (Mariotti, 1998). If healthcare departments are to experience a greater level of success in providing care, leaders need to embrace better frameworks for deliberating about change as well as understanding the key things that accompany the management of change. For instance, employees will want to understand the motive behind change and how it will affect them. Layoffs will more often than not only lead to confusion, paranoia, insecurities, and anger under the auspices of change. Thus, the promotion of change tends to be fatiguing and demanding to managerial teams. Not only are managers are compelled to challenge the precedent but also to persevere against the norms and habits of established behaviors. They must appreciate that change takes time and that their commitment is key for the achievement of success (Weiss, 1998). A health manager who values the needs of both the patients and the nursing team should appreciate the values that matter and concentrate on altering them as opposed to countering every invitation for change. In addition, he ought to be clear on the importance of each motive for change and develop appropriate responses and proactive actions fittingly.

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            Healthcare organizations that utilize a large group of professionals may not perform well if they are overly bureaucratic. According to Steiner (2001), bureaucratized and hierarchical organizations tend to be less flexible, less likely to empower staff, and therefore less amenable to change. If employees as used to doing what they are told, they will not give their organizations full value. Thus, it is indispensable for leaders to learn the best ways of implementing change in specific settings, rather than allowing change to come to power. Coram and Barnes Coram (2001) contend that there are no “best ways” to manage change in any unit and that the public sector needs to introduce a new approach to managing change that harmonizes well with their situational factors. Because change is inevitable in managerial structures, leaders should acknowledge the issues that go along with change in order to acquire a capability to manage change effectively. Additionally, they have a duty to establish a clear vision concerning the direction of the change process. The measurement and monitoring of outcomes of the change process is necessary for realizing whether or not the change has met the objectives. It is also important for those who are currently leading healthcare programs to painstakingly identify the current problems that arise as a result of change to help avoid them in future implementations.            

In conclusion, global changes in the healthcare sector drive healthcare organizations to alter their conventional systems or adopt fresh ones in order to attain quality of care. Nevertheless, such changes have created turbulence in the concerned organizations. It is necessary to critically review changes so as to identify the benefits they bring as well as the problems they draw. Leaders in regional and national heath should particularly concentrate their efforts on the identification of emerging changes and how to overcome them. Moreover, institutions should upgrade the skills and knowledge of managers and employee. This necessitates training on themes related to changes and the adoption of technology since it has become a common tool in the world of healthcare. Individuals who manage change should keep track of the emerging problems and design ultimate solutions for a secure future of the organization. All in all, the healthcare sector ought to tailor quality healthcare to the needs of the local population as well as create communication links between healthcare leadership and the society.

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