Change fatigue in health care is not new. But it may be a new concept to healthcare finance leaders.
The constant change in health care and ongoing uncertainty about the future have contributed to change fatigue, which has been defined as a sense of apathy or resignation about organizational changes. Change fatigue is insidious. It erodes job satisfaction, contributes to professional burnout, and undermines organizational effectiveness and progress.
Change fatigue is typically discussed in connection with clinicians, but finance leaders are not immune. The stresses of a volume-to-value transformation that is moving slowly and leaving finance leaders to manage under two conflicting payment systems—seemingly indefinitely—is taking a toll.
When we were planning our recent annual conference, we opted for a pragmatic approach to combating change fatigue. Some of you have heard me say it’s a myth that people don’t like change. People generally don’t like change that is forced upon them. That’s why shaping the change is more satisfying than just observing it. So we developed a track at the annual conference designed for people who wanted to spend time with colleagues in a conference setting helping to shape the change. We broke the sustainability challenge into three pieces: reducing the total cost of care, building a consumer-centric healthcare delivery system, and applying business intelligence and analytics. Then we developed a learning pathway around each piece, with an emphasis on focused, participative discussion sessions. At this writing, we are looking forward to getting feedback on that new cohort approach.
No matter how productive those discussions were, however, we know that those three “wicked problems” were not solved at our annual conference. Some of the best minds in health care have been working on them for years. So the conversation about these three issues will continue across a variety of HFMA channels throughout the next year, and beyond. You’ll be hearing more about that in the months to come.
Helping to shape change, rather than passively observing it, is one remedy for change fatigue. There is another remedy, and it’s a pretty simple one. In a word: reframe. We can choose whether we want to experience change as draining or as energizing. Change is going to happen, either way. Why not welcome it? There is no better community—no better support system—than HFMA to help people figure out ways to make the most of this long transitional period in our industry. The more challenging the healthcare environment becomes, the more valuable this community can be to its members. We’re all in this together. Let’s keep finding new ways to enjoy the journey.