Published: January 17, 2018

Just like your healthcare consumers, physicians are becoming more tech savvy. But change is hard, especially in such a complex industry. When it comes to getting physician buy-in on a new technology solution, you need to help them understand the benefits and value – whether the technology is an enterprise patient portal, new local listings and reputation management services, or website updates and marketing campaigns that require their participation. Before you invest and spend time updating or implementing technology, it's crucial to enlist the help of physicians in understanding the value of that technology for themselves (primary users), for their patients (secondary users), and for your organization as a whole.

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Take this example: Researchers at Norwegian University of Science and Technology conducted a study where physicians made rounds using different modes of recording devices. Physicians preferred the user experience of handheld mobile devices and liked that entries were private, could be changed and updated easily, and devices were light to transport. On the other hand, the patients preferred the bedside terminal computer option and felt physicians gave them more attention and interactions were preferable than when they used the mobile device. The study points out that primary and secondary users have very different experiences, and educating the physicians on patient preferences and where they see value can help them understand the need for different kinds of solutions.

5 ways to win physician buy-in:

1. Understand physicians' needs and concerns
Don't assume that all users have the same needs. Explaining to a physician that a reputation or directory listings management solution makes it easier for consumers to find and choose them is a great motivator, for example. Give physicians as much information as possible while getting to know their needs and their concerns about how any potential problems will be handled. Asking questions, and following up with additional clarifying information helps physicians feel as engaged in the new technology as the IT or marketing experts who are helping implement it.

2. Be upfront about what the technology can do
Technology does have limitations. If your software doesn't perform a specific function but there is a valid reason (i.e., HIPAA compliance), keep physicians in the loop. Having a process in place for users to provide feedback does wonders for user buy-in and engagement. Listen to physicians who provide feedback about when or how the technology will or won't work for a specific activity. One surefire way to get physician buy-in is to have physicians on staff who champion the technology.

3. Include physicians in the process
Show empathy - learning new technology can be cumbersome. Often users who are particularly defensive or difficult to gain buy-in from are those who are struggling with the technology or understanding its value. Simply recognizing this and contextualizing their experience (i.e., "Taking time to help us write a stellar bio and film a short intro video for our provider directory will build trust with your patients and potential patients.") helps convert a user from reticent to receptive.

4. Champion confidentiality and operational effectiveness
Security and privacy are major concerns for anyone who deals with technology. But when you can show that something like a content management system or CRM have built in functionality for protecting PHI by user role, rules for protecting sensitive information while still employing personalized messaging, or even best practices for how to handle negative consumer feedback, you've shown their concerns are your concerns. Operational plans for confidentiality, security, and efficiency should be prime talking points to gain buy-in.

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5. Continue to monitor the implementation
Nothing kills a good organizational buy-in swifter than not monitoring the process or problems as the implementation progresses. An organization may need to fine tune, change or even evaluate whether or not the touted improvements from using the technology, like better consumer engagement or more scheduled appointments, have occurred. Sometimes it is better to discontinue a bad implementation rather than suffer through one because physicians didn't see the intended improvements. Monitoring metrics, user data, and continued usability after the implementation is imperative to successful buy-in from physicians.

Win/Win for Physician Buy-in
Sometimes physicians are directly involved with decisions to implement technology, and sometimes they're not. But gathering physician or end-user support by listening to their needs and showing them consumer and patient benefits can go a long way to a smoother and more successful technology implementation. Being able to demonstrate how value for the consumer, patient, or secondary user translates to value for the physician or primary user of any technology solution can be a very persuasive tool and ultimately helps your organization provide better healthcare consumer experiences overall.

Want to understand more about physician and other user requirements for your next technology investment? Read our white paper, Healthcare Consumer Experience in 2017.