Is Health care Innovation the Next Silo?

Health care innovators hate silos.

Getting anything done in a health care system requires collaboration across disciplines. It requires breaking down those old institutional silos that limit the ability to work together to reach for big goals.

Spending time complaining about the doctors, IT, legal, marketing, business development or anyone else does nothing to get stuff done and only breed contempt and makes working together in the future more challenging.

And despite the fact that innovators work to break through these walls and push down silos, I wonder if we aren’t creating our own silo as well.

What creates a silo?

1. A lack of common language. In my role as an innovator within a healthcare system, I commonly spend my time translating between the doctors and marketing or IT and legal or any other number of people who seemingly are speaking a different language.

2. A lack of patience. I generally want things done yesterday. People I work with are ok waiting a few years or not making changes at all. This disconnect creates a separation that can be difficult to cross.

3. A lack of empathy. Not being able to see my problems and the impact of the proposed solution upon each member of the organization is devastating. I have to rely on other viewpoints and expertise and we have to understand where they are coming from.

How do innovators keep from becoming the next silo?

1. Educate with reassurance. You love to learn about the newest and best and you love to talk about it. But those who are less excited about telemedicine and AI and blockchain get a little nervous thinking that you plan to start a new initiative tomorrow. Reassure them that you want to teach and to get opinions but that you’re not looking to start something new right away.

2. Wait with action. Finding a middle ground between rapid change and never changing is tough. But you can begin to have conversations with key players while you are waiting for change to occur. It’s generally through those conversations that you start to see evolution in your organization.

3. Question with compassion. When you get a “no” from another department. It’s important to ask why. The first assumption is often that they are just resisting change but it’s rarely so simple. If you ask with compassion what their concerns are and can reassure or adjust your plan accordingly, you can move initiative through in a way in which everyone is more comfortable.

Health care innovator, don’t become the next silo.

Instead: Educate with reassurance. Wait with action. Question with compassion.

Get To Know Justin Smith

Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles.Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” is set to open in Trophy Club in 2017.