Why does change work at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney?

I attended the NSW HISA event at St Vincent’s hospital in Sydney this week where we heard about their 5 year odyssey to implement an Electronic Medication Management System on their wards. The speaker Silvia Fazekas presented a wonderful example of why what is recognized as the most complex change management project in the entire ehealth space, medication management has been successful there while it has failed in many other places around the world.

To me the main difference was in the people. As I commented during the presentation, there is definitely a degree of personality involved in change management versus process. Yes you can develop a change management methodology, but unless it is delivered with the sort of passion that Silvia demonstrated in front of a packed out room, it is very hard to do.

Silvia pointed out the need for strong executive leadership, and St Vincent’s has been famous for it’s executive leadership from it’s early days when 5 nuns came over from Ireland to set it up. Today it’s CIO David Roffe is well recognized as one of the healthcare CIOs who understands that his job is to make life better for his clinicians and their patients.

So passion seems to be the most effective way of ensuring success in change management, and unfortunately it is a hard thing to bottle. If we could clone people like Silvia, then we could roll it out across the country. So the next best thing is to develop contagious passion, and that comes from above and below. Executives who can talk with passion about how health reform will improve our lives is a great start, but we also need users to talk about their needs and wants as far as their healthcare is involved, and get those stories out.

Passion based marketing of EHealth may well be what we need to do to make it successful. It may seem low brow but in reality human being respond to emotion more than they do to logic, and nothing is more emotional than healthcare.


3 Responses to “Why does change work at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney?”

  1. Silvia Says:

    Thank you, George!

  2. Greg Mundy Says:

    You’re right George, we need passion in health reform, including e-health, to counteract the nay-sayers and sceptics and to maintain the enthusiasm of the teams working on it.

  3. Greg Moran Says:

    I agree with your comments George. Great presentation Silvia!! There are a few lessons to be learnt for our colleagues in the public health system as well. One was the change approach with personality, but second was accessibility to the system…I am aware of a lot of implementations that cut $$ and only have 2 pc stations on a ward…without easy access to the system it is hard to get adoption..

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