Overcoming Obstacles and Going Digital in Genetic Counseling
Genetic counselors willing to change their workflows to reap the benefits of going digital now face the daunting task of receiving approval from the executives, decision-makers, and budget holders at their institution.
In order to receive approval and funding, genetic counselors like Dr. Amy Taylor, a PhenoTips user and digital champion at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
, must make a business case.
“Sell the advantages,” Dr. Amy Taylor shared in a previous PhenoTips Speaker Series webinar
, “and the advantages are mostly in time-saving. Time-saving either trying to find the pedigree, the notes, which may not be where they’re supposed to be. Time-saving where patients can enter their own information prior to clinic. Approach it as a business case, sell the benefits of it.”
Luckily, digital champions do not have to carry the load alone.
“Ask for help in building a business case. We can help support building that out,” Erica suggests, recognizing how busy genetic counselors are already.
Specifically, Erica says, “Think about your everyday work and what currently interferes with it. Presenting those scenarios as a business case, even if they’re just an anecdote or a story, those speak very loudly.”
“Build up support within your department, talk to your colleagues, see what their ideas are and what struggles they contend with,” Erica continues. “And then consider other departments that may be able to use that tool as well. That can help you in building that business case because maybe you can split the cost, or maybe you can collaborate on a grant application together and that helps in building a more compelling case.”
With funding and departmental support secured the next step is adoption, where digital champions may be challenged by change-resistant attitudes.
“A lot of people are afraid of change,” says Dr. Taylor. “I think that fear of change does have to be overcome and I think it’s a case of introducing ideas quite slowly because people sometimes need time to adapt to a big shift like that. Don’t be disheartened if you get a ‘but this, but that’ response, that’s somebody thinking it through. Give them time, and just keep gently coming back to it.”
Erica recommends leading by example, “I think just keeping open lines of communication with people that you typically collaborate with, just letting them know about projects you’re working on and how you’re using the digital tool helps them visualize how it could fit into their work as well.”
“Think about your everyday work and what currently interferes with it. Presenting those scenarios as a business case, even if they’re just an anecdote or a story, those speak very loudly.”
Before funding and departmental adoption, however, the first step is curiosity. If you, like many genetic counselors who have assumed the role of digital champion, find yourself curious about harnessing digital tools in your practice, you’ve already taken the first step toward leading your clinic into the 21st century.
As Erica points out, it’s nice to know what’s out there even if you’re not ready to fully adopt a digital tool.
“Explore your options, see what tools are available,” she says. “When you’re at conferences, visit the exhibit hall and see what’s out there. Do your own searches online. And don’t hesitate to request a demo or ask questions and learn what digital tools are all about.”