Playing Nice to Breaking the Healthcare System Silos

“Play nice!”, like our teachers in grade school always said before going to the playground; this school yard principle still rings very true today! Working together, nicely, is a simple value that can unite the greatest of divides. By divides, I don’t mean those silly turf wars in kindergarten between those who liked Rugrats over Tiny Toon Adventures, or vice versa, but the ones that naturally separate us due to our general areas of focus and differences in industry/discipline. Fellow health care professionals, it’s high time we leave our differences with other industries (banking, entertainment, etc.) and work together on what unites us forever — humanity! Try hosting a lunch and learn for lay people who work outside of your department/institution/field. Start small, maybe even with one friend who works in an opposite field than yours. Take the time to explain to your frustrated customer, whose PC isn’t turning on, how LCD monitors are capable of displaying an image (insider between me and Morehouse School of Medicine’s IT helpdesk). It is here where the walls that divide us begin to crumble. Some of the most unbeknownst influencers and allies are found this way.

I know we’ve heard (ad nauseam) that healthcare systems, amongst other things, are siloed, and there are many solutions, like Amazon’s EMR product, developed to improve outcomes by following a human being through the continuum of life:

· through the tracking of data over time;

· identifying patients who are due for preventative visits/screenings;

· monitoring how patients measure up to certain parameters;

· and most importantly, improve overall quality of care!

Here’s another one from my early years in life — Change is the only thing that’s constant. Healthcare mogul Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, said it best, “Change Management is the next challenge,”. While we know that change is inevitable, it really ought to be our focus for bringing these isolated towers within the healthcare industry down. Workflow management is more manageable than ever now with the advancements in technology today. The answer to improving patient outcomes through collaboration is having persons in place to manage the shift in the age of allied health. What would our world look like if there were key personnel in place within different arms of the healthcare system to facilitate each phase of change to integration? Better yet, what if there was a best practice scoring rubric to show progress within an organization/institution that certifies its healthcare “de-siloing” efforts?

It is no easy feat, but a great starting point.