Change management: Why implementing shifts to these 3 health care initiatives faces resistance


Organizations implementing these three health care changes are likely to face push-back, but change managers can help.

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Image: iStock/Ridofranz

Most people are not only concerned about their health but also their health care. When large initiatives or even smaller projects are introduced in these three areas, it can throw additional uncertainty into the mix. The result can be significant push-back from stakeholders. 

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Universal health care

First, what is universal health care? The World Health Organization (WHO) describes it as coverage that ensures all people can obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship. Various countries around the world, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, and others, have successfully implemented universal health care. While many people agree with universal health care and its benefits, there are still many who are uncertain or completely set against the concept for reasons that include:

  • A lack of understanding about what it means to their quality of health care.
  • Concerns surrounding who will have control over their health decisions.
  • Concerns about gaining access to services with more people having health care.
  • Misinformation, myths, and the fear that it generates.

Whether it’s rolling out this initiative or making changes to it, the fear of uncertainty is real. It can jeopardize implementation, even if it is for the greater good. The key to reducing anxiety is no different from that of any other initiative. It involves developing clear and ongoing stakeholder communication strategies, identifying the root causes for concern, and directly addressing each concern. It’s also essential to engage the help of change management experts to assist instead of simply charging ahead with the hopes that those who disagree will come around. Without addressing resistance and educating opposing stakeholders, fear will continue to cloud sound thinking.

Rare disease treatments

In the US, the Orphan Drug Act of 1983 defines a rare disease as one affecting fewer than 200,000 people. For those who suffer from or who have family suffering from a rare disease, funding and roll-out of treatments can be life-changing. 

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But those who aren’t impacted may resist because of the cost of developing treatments or a cure. Why? Some may see it as significant use of financial and other precious resources for the benefit of a few. It’s important to note that about 10% of the world’s population suffers from a rare disease . With almost 8 billion people worldwide as of 2020, that makes 8 million people suffering from a rare disease. It’s equally important to note that many more common diseases today started out as rare. Once again, the key to removing resistance to developing treatments for rare or ultra-rare diseases is educating the masses about the benefits versus costs, and how many of today’s more prevalent diseases, including multiple sclerosis or even diabetes, was once considered rare. 

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Virtual care

Known as virtual care, telemedicine, or telehealth, this form of medical visit isn’t new, but it has become critically important in 2020 due to COVID-19 and the need to self-isolate. But not everyone supports virtual care due to these key concerns. 

  • Privacy over the internet or telephone.
  • Issues with the use of third-party technologies.
  • A loss in the one-on-one doctor-patient relationship.
  • Concerns over the quality of care.
  • Accessing prescriptions for treatment.

Telehealth has been around since the 1940s and has increasingly become a way for doctors and counselors to help their patients who cannot attend in-office visits or confidential counseling sessions. Virtual care provides patients the same health care and some of the added benefits of convenience, reduced travel, and associated costs for patients and doctors. Some of these benefits to doctors, dentists, counselors, and other medical specialists can help patients receive better quality care. Doctors’ offices must discuss these benefits and reduce potential concerns around the use of technology, privacy, and continuity of care in advance of making changes. 

With health care systems becoming more overwhelmed, talk of universal health care, rare disease treatments, and virtual care is making headlines and affecting more people. While anxiety over changing systems will persist, communication and overall education in advance of changes and the inclusion of a change management specialist can help remove much of the resistance in these three health care initiatives.

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