Healthcare and life sciences organizations are no strangers to change. But as the pandemic took hold, it forced change in a way the industry hadn’t seen before. Much of the workforce went remote seemingly overnight, and companies had to adapt — and innovate — fast.

In fact, according to a survey of healthcare and life sciences leaders, 50% said remote and hybrid work settings were a top internal disruption factor at the start of the pandemic. The lesson was clear: change management in health should put employee experiences front and center no matter where they work. This way we successfully drive innovation, while accounting for any change fatigue and burnout.

Drive innovation through disruption

The modern workplace has been shaken by change, and the health industry has not been immune to these developments. See how, with the right culture, tools, and processes, you can find ways to humanize that change and use it as a springboard to drive innovation.

We recently visited oral care and telehealth pioneer SmileDirectClub in Nashville, Tenn., to learn how its people-first culture helped drive rapid innovation during the pandemic. We spoke with Team Captain Kayla Spicer and Global Head of Supply Chain Dan Baker about how the company is not only invested in delivering quality products and services to 1.7 million smiles around the world, but to its own teams as well.

Once we launched Salesforce, we were able to do a lot of different things like video calls. That gives our customers access to care that you would never imagine.

Kayla Spicer, Team Captain, SmileDirectClub

While the pandemic disrupted everything from processes and training to working with customers, SmileDirectClub’s people-first mentality helped it act quickly to empower teams no matter where they were. With the help of Salesforce, SmileDirectClub was able to unify its systems and launch game-changing video calling technology that improved both the customer and employee experience. 

“With Salesforce, we were able to combine all of the systems that we use in one place,” Spicer said. “Once we launched Salesforce, we were able to do a lot of different things like video calls. That gives our customers access to care that you would never imagine.” 

Culture-building activities help teams build confidence

SmileDirectClub teams used video-calling technology to infuse fun into their training, like showcasing their pets on camera. These culture-building activities ultimately helped team members build confidence to use the tool effectively with customers. 

This new technology also helped SmileDirectClub quickly pivot during the pandemic to deliver training and materials remotely, which allowed flexible and remote working options.

It comes down to trust. It’s about creating a workplace where team members’ opinions are heard and listened to.

Dan Baker, Global Head of Supply Chain, SmileDirectClub

For SmileDirectClub, successful change management in health is based on investing in people and developing trust. While technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are certainly driving change, Baker noted that it’s actually the people making innovation possible. “I think it comes down to trust,” Baker told me. “It’s about creating a workplace where team members’ opinions are heard and listened to, and then they can then see the evidence of their ideas making a difference.” 

And SmileDirectClub isn’t just talk. Recently, the company launched a new aligner manufacturing technology that incorporates automation. By listening to its team members, the company was able to drive incremental productivity, without increasing workload. The process is a testament to a culture that believes in continual improvement and that good ideas can come from anywhere.

Maintaining human connections at Deloitte Digital

Implementing human-first change management practices also resonates with experience consultancy Deloitte Digital. We went to the Boston office of Chief Experience Officer Amelia Dunlop, who shared how her early career was impacted by her doubts about her own self-worth. It’s a concern shared by many professionals, she added.

To drive great work through authenticity, Deloitte Digital was inspired to start with its own people. For example, the company developed a frequent employee survey that asks a simple question — “what can we do to elevate your experience?” — and then acts on the answers.

We’re more connected than ever (digitally), with friends and colleagues from all over the world, but we feel less of that human connection that we so need.

Amelia Dunop, Chief Experience Officer, Deloitte Digital

Deloitte Digital also attributes burnout as a big workplace challenge. To avoid it, Dunlop said it’s important to create and maintain human connections so that we don’t suffer from what she calls the “human experience debt” sparked by the pandemic. 

“In ways, we’re more connected than ever (digitally), with friends and colleagues from all over the world, but we feel less of that human connection that we so need,” she explained. “And because of that human experience debt, we need to do more to show up and feel more human.”

Successful change management in health

Disruptions in healthcare and life sciences may be inevitable, but as we’ve learned from SmileDirectClub and Deloitte Digital, organizations can continue to innovate and transform by investing in their employees first. With people at the core of every business, it’s clear we need each other to succeed. Improving the human experience can lead to higher productivity, boosted morale, and ultimately, a more rewarding and adaptive environment. 

See how industry leaders are driving change across the globe

Gain industry insights and learn how Trailblazers are driving the latest innovations. To learn more about what organizations are doing to humanize change management in health, watch our latest video.

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