New digital dictation system? 10 ways to get buy in from your clinicians

How do you persuade already over-stretched healthcare professionals to buy into a new technology that takes time to get used to and necessitates a change in the way they work?

1. Engage clinicians from the offset

Start the engagement process with a series of open days for clinicians (and administration staff).  Ask attendees to fill in a questionnaire to highlight any fears or apprehensions they may have about the new system and use these results to steer the implementation process.

Feedback from such open days can be critical to project success. It is often the simple things that are key – ensuring there are sufficient workstations available, for example, and that clinic rooms are properly set up and maintained at all times for dictation.

2. Let clinicians know that this is a strategy from the top

Get sponsorship for your project at the highest clinical level possible from the outset, ideally from both the Chief Executive and the Medical Director and then make sure that clinicians know that the investment has been approved at the highest level within the Trust. It is not for those charged with implementing change to do battle with reluctant users, so decide in advance with the most senior decision makers how best to handle any resistance.

3. Run a pilot first

Pilot the solution in one department or specialty first to ensuring any teething problems or clinician objections are revealed and addressed in advance of roll out.

4. Offer speedy technical support

Trusts are notoriously neglectful at providing adequate support to ensure systems are used properly and deliver the anticipated results. It is essential that clinicians have confidence that any problems with the new system will be addressed quickly. As they are using these facilities all day every day, the support services have to be up to the challenge, so give them a helpline to your IT supplier for ongoing technical support.

5. Involve your clinicians in the system specification

Consult your clinicians to make sure that you are providing them with the equipment they prefer (for example, their favoured dictation machines).

6. Make their lives easier

Look at remote or mobile dictation options which will allow consultants on the move to dictate a letter on one site in the morning and approve it in the afternoon from another site.

7. Allay any fears

Clinicians can often view the introduction of any new clinical correspondence technology as a threat to the strong relationship they have with their medical secretary and fear that efficiency improvements can herald job cuts. In reality, this is very rarely the case. Instead combined digital dictation and clinical correspondence software can free up their secretaries to spend more time on patient care and supporting the clinician better.

8. Keep up the communications

Communicate that the project is underway, what the stages of development are, why there is a need for the project and what you expect the benefits to be at the end of the trial period. Buy-in and acceptance of new systems and processes can be short lived, so ensure effective communications are maintained after implementation and on an on-going basis.

9. Get clinical buy in across the Trust

If you are looking to introduce technology which will impact across the wider health community, secure clinical representation from all involved factions (for example, Surgical, Medical and Women’s and Children’s for a Trust-wide application).

10. Use a proven path to project delivery

Stick to NHS project management methodologies, such as PRINCE, which have structures and procedures to ensure the right representation is present, the communication strategy is formalised and issues such as managing clinicians’ objections are fully covered.

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