Managing Change in a Healthcare Organization: Project or Operation?


By Maulik Baxi, MD, MPH, CPH, PMP

Ontario, Canada


Change management is a continuous and incremental process. It requires refinement and constant supervision to insure the desired change takes place at desired pace. Change management can lead to unintended or unforeseen consequences. A carefully tailored, specific and supervised change management process is essential to achieve strategic organizational objectives.

Managing change in a healthcare organization can require a complex set of interdependent activity. Multiple stakeholders, timelines, budgetary constraints and quality of care can make managing change process a very complicated undertaking. Healthcare leaders, which more often than not include bedside practitioners, can provide valuable insights into this process.

Change management as a Project

The question of whether change management is a project or an operation in a healthcare organization requires some thought. A project is generally defined as ‘a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or a result’ (A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), 2013). A project has a definite beginning and end with clearly defined interim milestones and deliverables.

Once the need for a change is identified, the project manager has a clearly defined beginning and once the change is completely achieved, the project of implementing it can be considered complete. In this sense, the process of change management is indeed a temporary endeavor to move away from an established process or product which concludes when the replacement process becomes operational or product becomes available.


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About the Author 

pmwj23-jun2014-Baxi-AUTHOR PHOTOMaulik Baxiflag-canada

Ontario, Canada

Dr. Maulik Baxi, MD, MPH, CPH, PMP is a Research Program Manager at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Baxi is Molecular Epidemiologist by training with professional interests that include public health, clinical research and chronic disease epidemiology. Dr. Baxi is Board Certified in Public Health and a certified Project Management Professional. He is alumnus of Medical College at The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in India and the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York.  Dr. Baxi can be contacted at [email protected].