How to Prioritize in the Midst of Never-Ending Change and Demands


Having over 30 years as a leader and thought leader in health care, I cannot remember a time when
there has been so much change. New regulations, new payment models, new quality initiatives affecting operational outcomes, new survey process and now the new changes of the week – the new survey tools and matrix, as well as the 30+ critical element pathways. (Source:


At times it feels as if we as leaders wake up every day, make it into work, meet with team members and read emails and realize – the landscape of our business and post-acute care industry has changed, again!


As leaders, we need to adjust our priorities, schedules and processes instead of secretly freaking out that there are more changes coming and not knowing how to fit it all in! Avoiding change is uncomfortable, unnatural and builds up unnecessary anxiety, which in the end, is inevitable. Embracing change and being flexible, resilient and agile as a leader is key to our personal and professional success.


Welcome to being a leader in today’s health care environment. It can be stressful, however it can be very rewarding as well. The question is, how do we lead through these changes and prioritize our efforts and resources? I often find myself asking, “How can we as leaders prioritize work when everything is #1?”


Let’s take a look at how to view change, prioritize and leverage these challenges into opportunities. Knowing how to prioritize work in the midst of change is important to day-to-day operations and most importantly your leadership well being.
  1. Team – In today’s world, it takes a team. There are numerous changes and “to do’s” that require yourself, as a leader, as well as various team members’ input, skill sets and knowledge. You cannot do this alone! Engage a team from all levels of your organization to review the changes and solicit their thoughts and ideas.
  2. Identify – Pull together, with your team, everything that requires attention and needs to be completed. Make the list and don’t worry about how many items there are or the order in which your team wrote them down. Leaders like to lead change and know what the overall impact of the drivers of change will be on our business, however, we need to work with our teams to think objectively about what the change will require in terms of time and resources. We can’t just assume we’ll “find a way” when our resources are already tapped. That is why team buy-in and involvement is key!
  3. Immediate vs. Important – Divide the list into two columns. Ask yourself what is immediate (which could have a serious and immediate negative impact) and what is important (that which needs to be accomplished, however there are possibly a few more days to complete some of the tasks). Then, determine if any of the tasks listed are inter-related or have inter-dependencies.
  4. Value/Impact – Next, look at the immediate and important tasks and identify what carries a significant value or impact on your organization. Gather data. A way to look at value is to determine the number of people impacted or involved. The higher the stakes for completion of the task/priority are, the higher the value.
  5. Agility and Flexibility – Change is a given, and there are an infinite number of changes for consideration. Remember to be agile, and focus on as many tasks that are inter-related, what we should to stay focused on, and what has been committed to accomplish. If there needs to be a re-work of priorities, engage your team for full commitment.
With rapid change, it is important that leaders pause to assess things from a holistic, systems perspective. Successful leaders follow a pattern to help them prioritize and make sense of the daily changes facing our industry, helping them become better because of the change! Set the vision with your team and communicate while celebrating your organization’s successes.


Pathway Health provides unique leadership solutions to help focus your team and improve performance. Contact us to learn how we can assist you with your growth strategy and improve operational performance.


Lisa Thomson
Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, Pathway Health