You'll know the saying 'Build it and they will come'. When it comes to digital tools, it could just as easily be 'Buy it and they will use it'. Neither are guaranteed - and neither are sound reasons for building infrastructure or buying digital technology.
Digital technology can do so much to improve health and care (for both patients and staff) – and investment in digital shows no signs of slowing: £2bn for digital health technology and IT upgrades in the NHS was announced in October – but how do you ensure your shiny new digital tool will deliver the promises published in your business case?
The answer, as we have learned from customer experience with our own tool, Tendable, is in the implementation. When you introduce a new tool and new processes into your organisation, how you manage that change will determine just how well it does what you want it to do.
How to get the best out of your investment: a step-by-step guide
Over the six years since we first introduced our quality audit tool, Tendable, we have identified the essential steps to successfully introducing new digital technology into health and care environments. These will ensure you get it right, and that you don’t become one of the many digital transformation projects which fail to make any improvement to their organisation.
1. Assess the status quo
Engage your team fully. Get a detailed understanding of what happens now, what works and what doesn’t, and what frustrates your people. Not only will that get them involved in the change process, it provides a useful baseline from which to measure the success or otherwise of your change. For example, in introducing the Tendable app, you and your team might want to reduce the time taken to carry out an audit, or reduce reporting times from days and weeks to minutes and hours – all things which are positive improvements, and which are easily measurable.
2. Identify and involve key stakeholders and decision makers
Design your change to maximise its success with the multiple stakeholders who will use or benefit from your tool. Develop champions who will happily demonstrate the advantages of your new ways of working with hands-on experience. Happy Tendable users spread the message within their organisations and – importantly – let you know when or where people are less engaged.
3. Co-design, challenge, test, refine, repeat
New tech comes with bells and whistles offering all sorts of potential – but to get the results you want from it requires paying attention and setting it up to meet your particular needs. In the case of Tendable’s audit facilities, that means ensuring your ‘inputs’ (the audit questions and audit structure you use) are the right ones to give you valid ‘outputs’ (your insights into your quality processes and performance). We work with you to get that right.
Look out for the following:
- Eliminate duplication in questions
- Standardise as much as possible so that you can learn from meaningful comparisons – watch out for those acronyms!
- Ensure audit questions are objective and clear to every user
- Test questions in practice – there is always potential for refinement. A good test for questions is to ask what action you would take if the answer was negative – if you can’t think of one, then take it out.
4. Communicate, communicate, communicate - and keep tabs on your user numbers
If the number of your active users starts to drop, then it’s a clear sign that something is not working. It could be:
- They don’t understand how to use the tool or when they are meant to do audits
- They don’t think the audit is relevant or useful
- They don’t have time
- They didn’t do it last month and no one followed up
All these issues can be addressed by better communication – so keep tabs on those user numbers.
5. Embed a process for continued engagement with your tool
Implementation activity for anything new is usually focussed up front, on the first few weeks, and then it’s over. The result? People who join your team later will not get the same involvement in getting to know, use and value your process or tool.
Avoid that by ensuring you get implementation support from your provider throughout the life of your contract, as we do with Tendable.
6. Challenge your programme regularly - your priorities change, and it should too
Your organisation’s priorities change over time, and your audits and processes may need to change too. At Tendable we encourage our customers to challenge their approach annually to ensure that the quality information they are getting from the app is relevant to their changing priorities. It’s our commitment to our customers that we ensure it does.
Ultimately, implementing a new tool or process doesn’t stop the minute you complete an introductory training session. To get the best from your investment, make your implementation a continuous process. We can help you to do that.
Contact us to find out how we can help your organisation.