Healthcare is known for silos and it’s maddening just how badly this widely accepted state of affairs has impeded progress. Sure I understand how incredibly unique your organizations are, but perhaps that is the very cause of the silos in the first place. For as long as the healthcare industry has existed, there have been excuses justifying the need for silos. We’re different over here. We’re unique. We have much different types of patients. We have very different needs. Our staff is different, etc., etc., etc…
One of the most painful examples of silo’d thinking is with quality, safety, and service. When these three functions sit in their own silos there are thousands of missed opportunities. The three must be intertwined to avoid competing priorities, mixed messages or duplication of effort. Bottom line is that it all comes down to culture. Does your culture foster collaboration? Does your culture promote cross functional teams? Does your culture operate from a higher purpose that clearly unifies all of the above?
Connect the dots by starting with the question, “Why?” Why is this particular function or action important? Then ask the crucial second question, “How?” How does this action or goal connect with other actions and goals? How can we communicate and facilitate greater linkages to achieve all goals?
It’s amazing to me just how the silos creep into the thinking. I was recently speaking with a nurse manager who explained that she was making service rounds. I asked her to expand on this and she explained that the organization focus on patient experience required that she make service rounds to find out if there was anything the patient needed. I realized that her brain had taken rounding (a tactic) and silo’d it into one set of goals instead of seeing the single tactic as a means to achieve quality, safety, and service.
By starting with the question “why?” and following with “how?” you will be on your way to breaking down the silos.