“That isn’t how we do things.” We’ve all heard these words, whether in a classroom or on the job, to quickly dismiss a unique suggestion or an out-of-the-box solution.
Following established processes isn’t bad, of course. It ensures tasks are completed efficiently and meet a certain level of quality. Creating a standard way of doing things can even bring about revolutionary change. Henry Ford’s assembly line broke down Model T assembly into 84 discrete steps, reducing the time it took to build a car from 12 hours to a mere 90 minutes. (Today, Ford churns out approximately 16 vehicles every 60 seconds at manufacturing plants around the world.)
Standard operating procedures help streamline complex tasks, standardize jobs shared by multiple people, and particularly in healthcare, ensure critical tasks such as medication administration are performed safely. It’s no wonder that nurses, who work in a constantly changing environment, are often averse to any change in their routines. Nurses have been bombarded with changes over the past few years, from Meaningful Use policies to patient engagement strategies to numerous new bedside technologies. Our Clinical Solutions Specialist, Dana Peco, MSN, BSN, CCRN, reports that hospital nurses are experiencing “change fatigue,” making them reluctant to any change in the status quo.
“I’m often met with opposition from staff when I go onsite,” Dana says. “Nurses ask me, ‘What is the new flavor this week?’ And say, ‘We’ve always done it this way; why should we change?’”
Their reaction is understandable, as embracing routines is a fundamentally human attribute. Recently, while indulging my own morning routine of scanning the day’s headlines, I clicked on a story about a photographer who documented people leaving Grand Central Station in New York City at the same time every morning for nine years. Familiar faces appear repeatedly, with a remarkable sameness to their habits and routines day after day, year after year.
Studies in neuroscience show the human brain is naturally wired to resist change. According to leadership expert David Rock and research psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz:
Try to change another person’s behavior, even with the best possible justification, and he or she will experience discomfort. The brain sends out powerful messages that something is wrong, and the capacity for higher thought is decreased. Change itself thus amplifies stress and discomfort; and managers (who may not, from their position in the hierarchy, perceive the same events in the same way that subordinates perceive them) tend to underestimate the challenges inherent in implementation.
It’s easy to understand how, in an environment where people are managing life and death situations, change can be especially challenging.
As Dana says, “When I think back 20 years ago to when I became a nurse, I chuckle about how we used paper and pens to chart, and yelled out into the hallways to ask for help. It may have been simpler back then, but it wasn’t better.”
We know that adopting new technology for care team communication and collaboration is a big change for our customers, and we feel your pain. But we also know that the smartphone revolution is paying off for health systems that have upgraded to a communication platform that seamlessly connects the entire care team. See for yourself what nurses and doctors say about embracing this change.
Lori Uzzo is Content Manager at Voalte.