As a result of getting the communications plan relating to the change wrong the NHS have had to delay implementation of the initiative by six months - perhaps even indefinitely. What seems to have gone wrong and are there any lessons for procurement?
First, let's remember that this is about change management. You can't expect people to just go along with your belief of what represents an improvement, you have to win them round, you have to listen to their concerns, understand their perceptions of the potential risks, and clearly communicate the benefits. On all these fronts the NHS seem to have got it wrong as far as care.data is concerned. You also have to get those who are trusted and have influence over those impacted on the change on board - recall we heard last month that a reasonable proportion of GPs are sceptical about care.data.
Experts believe that the new system will help in the assessment of new solutions, better manage risks and help performance management - all very laudable. But patients believe their personal data will be sold and have a lack of confidence in existing data security - all very understandable. The NHS claim every household received a mailshot outlining the benefits, yet many of those impacted by the changes still appear to be in the dark and sceptical - did they receive the mailshot or was it lost in all the other 'noise'?
So what are the lessons for procurement?
Well the first lesson is that if you are buying a communications service make sure you state the outcomes to be achieved and use that as part of the payment mechanism.
The second lesson is much more fundamental. The introduction of category management, adoption of sustainable procurement strategies, increase in collaborative procurement, more effective use of eProcurement solutions, changes in procurement processes, etc., are all good things and should deliver benefits for Procurement's internal customers. But those impacted by the changes and expected to do business differently, may only see risks and threats to the current way they do business and a loss of control. Why would they trust you? The big lesson from 'care.data' is that people do care and you need to bring them with you otherwise change just won't be implemented in a way which delivers its expected results. It makes little difference whether or not you, as the expert, believe the change is good, what really matters is how effective you are in getting those impacted by the change to believe it is good for them too.
Really, as an observer do you believe it is at fault in this change management initiative? Is it the NHS or the patients? Then ask yourself, does the same principle apply with your own change management initiatives?