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What is The Distraction of Disruption? and More Importantly, What Do We Do About It?

The weeks leading up to the end of the year have been busy for Blockit and myself! Recently, our team has wrapped up a very large healthcare system go-live, have been chosen as the selected solution with one of the nation's largest healthcare systems, and are high fiving daily over the amazing impact Blockit is making in highschool athletics and independent affiliated physicians throughout the country! Oh, and by the way, Blockit was announced as a finalist for the D CEO Magazine 2020 Healthcare Innovation Award! It’s an exciting time for us with lots of upward momentum!

But if I’ve learned anything in my 30 years of working in healthcare services, it’s that if momentum is not maintained, all the hard work that it took to get moving up can shift downward quickly. This is true not just for service companies, but also for the providers we’re trying to help. That’s why we’re always keep an eye out for potential enemies of momentum for ourselves and our clients.

Unfortunately, I’ve noticed many of our clients falling prey to one particular enemy of momentum that outshine the others and stalls implementation time and time again. I call it the distraction of disruption.

What is The Distraction of Disruption?

Though its name has a catchy ring to it, the distraction of disruption is a big problem, and it’s one of the many sneaky forces that keep healthcare leaders from realizing the promise of a well implemented patient navigation solution.

The distraction of disruption is what happens when organizations let fear infiltrate their decision making. Healthcare specifically tends to be ultra conservative with anything that may be perceived as disruptive, even if that “disruption” helps achieve a greater goal that, though may not be clinically oriented, most certainly has huge ROI while still ensuring patient safety and quality of care. Often times they are more frightened of the disruption of organizational change than they are inspired by the guaranteed organizational improvement.

I know this because (confession time) throughout my career I have seen, acted on and even contributed in the Anti-Adoption ideals that create the Distraction of Disruption. But now as I’m seeing the maturation of health tech and finding helpful solutions that actually deliver on their promises, the fear of adopting gets extreme and frankly dangerous.

“The longer we sit, the sooner we begin to see a downturn! ”

The Value of Sustaining Success

To fight against the distraction of disruption, Blockit’s implementation and adoption teams focus on keeping momentum going throughout the process. Even with this effort, however, systems continue to find ways to stall despite incredible initial or pilot results.

I’ve seen many instances where early success burns out and becomes nearly impossible to restart once systems begin to pause. The fresh excitement of a new tool that staff and provider’s can easily use really does motivate people to perform. Once they experience the immediate gratification of a healthcare technology solution that actually does ease burdens and make processes easier, they’re excited to adopt it! Things go smoothly; the results are incredible, and everyone agrees that the success is amazing.

Yet I still often hear the same thing:

“We have to pause because too much too soon might cause disruption.”

Pause now? Why? The success exists because we prepared for and accommodated the disruption risk! Stalling will actually cause more risk! When we stall, we risk losing the great momentum and credibility that created the intentionality that delivered the success. The longer we sit, the sooner we begin to see a downturn!

Pausing strips away all the excitement and momentum that comes from the discovery of a helpful solution. Of course that will lead to a downturn in usage! And then you’ve got a lack of consistency regarding which care gaps are being addressed and which are not, creating a sense of complacency and confusion for the entire team. All this fosters a sense of indifference, starting with the leadership, and indifference is the killer of all great initiatives. To be honest, the lack of acknowledging and addressing this reality is one of the greatest issues with technology adoption in all of healthcare, not just with patient navigation solutions.

This is why Blockit works early on with clients to carefully architect organization designs related to referral workflow that will address all “disruption” concerns and demonstrate the ability to deliver quick results with minimal disruption. This organization design and workflow strategy must happen before pilot so that it becomes a critical success criteria that will provide the assurance that there are NO reasons to pause. Moving forward quickly and keeping momentum is built into the plan. The team, then, is not "distracted" by the risk of disruption and instead quickly realizes the benefits of digital care coordination!

How Do We Do This? Impact Studies

One way blockit likes to help our clients realize these benefits more quickly is by conducting what we call an "impact study" ahead of the project design session. The study ensures that we...

  1. Pinpoint the “disruption distraction”

  2. Identify the risks to quick adoption

  3. Mitigate those specific risks and

  4. Build that into an adoption plan.

The impact study considers organizational design, workflow and culture while also looking at ROI within the report in order to justify any suggestions to improve performance.

“In one recent case, stalling cost the system $1million dollars in lost revenue.”

One example of an impact study that I see often comes from post-pilot pushback in regard to expanding the project scope. While such an expansion would maximize the benefits proven in the pilot, the “disruption” (change) often interferes with the frontline leaders’ ability to see those benefits. This often leads to a “disruption distraction” where the team spends days considering how to address the problem and delays experiencing the full potential of the proven solution. Simultaneously, this process creates organizational habits that diminish the initial success and creates an undue burden on great frontline leaders that go into “protect and preserve” mode. It’s a nasty cycle, and in one recent case I dealt with, this stalling cost the system $1million dollars in lost revenue.

As passionate as I am about the topic of healthcare technology adoption, I know some technology efforts miss the mark by ignoring the human element. That’s why I or any other member of our team would love to connect with you and discuss how Blockit can help your practice.

One of the best compliments our team’s received all year came from a large system IT executive after a very successful pilot. He first commented on how impressive our technology is and the robustness of our workflow and implementation plans. But then he said that those things are expected from a healthcare technology team. What really impressed him, he told us, was how everyone involved (providers, administrators, technology people and executives) really enjoyed the implementation process and are still speak highly of the experience they had working with our team. That is what successful adoption looks like, and that is what will ensure overall success! Let's talk about your patient navigation challenges and how to overcome the disruption distraction.


Dave Gregorio is the Chief Customer Officer at Blockit and the author of the Purpose Quotient®, a nationally recognized framework for Organizational Development. A 30 year healthcare industry professional with a passion for people, Dave is the founder of the Heroes to Healthcare mission and CEO of ImPowerQ Associates LLC.


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