3 Critical Elements to Leading through the Change and Innovation of PDPM

“Change is the only constant in life” —Heraclitus of Ephesus

In the world of healthcare, change is the only real constant. We don’t ask for it or volunteer to be impacted by it; it just happens.

The key to weathering change as a leader is to have the knowledge and skills to manage throughout the process, prepare our teams for it, understand when change is different than ongoing innovation, and recognize the role we play in the success or failure that change ultimately brings.

PDPM: A Major Change in the Business of Healthcare

One example of how healthcare is changing is the new Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM) platform recently announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). It may feel like now that we have finally mastered how we get paid to serve our patients, we suddenly have a whole new formula to learn. And this payment model has the potential to fundamentally change how we get paid for our work and the services we provide to our patients.

This single change can and will impact all aspects of our profession. So what do we do? How do we help our teams thrive in the midst of all the changes PDPM will bring to our doorstep?

As with any other substantial event, the key to success in weathering this change is to understand the role change has in each of our personal and professional lives. We need to learn how to prepare for its inevitability and thrive regardless of its impact.

The Role of the Leader in Guiding Change

1) Understand the process of change and how to best manage it.

The key to managing change is to understand what drives change in healthcare, along with the key factors that impact our teams, our businesses, and those we serve. Without a complete understanding of the change management process, leaders may get stuck facing resistance and may never gain momentum.

Tip: Learn the change management process and how you can incorporate this process into your present business, financial, and care models—specifically in the context of PDPM.

2) Prepare your team for change.

The worst thing a leader can do is shelter their team members and not prepare them for change. Your team will be the most critical factor in successfully managing all changes that come your way. The key to success will be gaining trust and confidence that you, as their leader, fully understand the challenges ahead and are ready to guide them through the change.

Tip: Focus on engaging your team members, building trust via active and open communications, working with them to understand the changes ahead, setting reasonable goals to overcome fears, and ultimately gaining their buy-in.

3) Embrace the change and lean into it.

Very few team members want to work with—or for—a leader who runs from a challenge. Many will see how the leader manages change as the ultimate test of their leadership ability. After all, it’s easy to lead in smooth times, but toss a little change into the mix, and you get to see what real leaders are made of. Today’s team member doesn’t just do what the boss says; they follow a leader to transform all they do and those they serve.

Tip: Understand the role change plays in turning you into a transformational leader. Discover how your head and heart are effective tools to engage and encourage your team members. Explore how building your own personal resilience and passing those skills along to your team will have a lasting impact on your organization.

The bottom line is that very few people really like change. The recent concerns and confusion with PDPM have done a great job of demonstrating this. As in so many things, though, it’s not what happens to leaders that counts; its what they choose to do with what happens to them that really matters.

Choose wisely, because change will happen.

Cohen, D.S. (2005). The Heart of Change Field Guide. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press. Dyer, J.H., Gregersen, H.B., &  Christensen, C.M. (2009). The Innovator's DNA. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review. Lewin, K. (1951). Field Theory in Social Sciences. New York: Harper Row. Rogers, Everett (2003). Diffusion of Innovations (5th ed.).  New York: Simon & Schuster.