No More Silos – Catch the Spirit of Healthcare Collaboration

Have you read this Harvard Business Review article on the benefits of integrated care for patients and their families? If not, it’s a good one for your list. Although the focus of the article was collaboration among patient care teams, it got me thinking about other important types of collaboration in hospitals, particularly across certain internal departments.  While the efforts of these departments are not as visible to patients as what clinicians do, their collaboration is essential. A little over 15 years ago, my sales career became primarily focused on the acute care hospital market, and I remember how segmented many of the departments were. Within nearly every hospital back then, telecom had little knowledge of what IT was doing (and vice-versa), and IT and biomed didn’t really talk to one another. The lack of coordination led to overlapping hospital technologies, redundant efforts, workflow inefficiencies, disjointed outcomes, and a lack of an overall framework for enterprise-wide technologies and communication.

I’ve seen great strides in how hospital departments work together over the past 15 years, including IT/telecom, biomed, and nursing. The relatively new position of chief medical information officer (CMIO) has become prevalent in healthcare to serve as the bridge between the clinical and IT departments. CMIOs have become prominent in the overall buying process of IT systems that touch clinical staff. They’re involved in the planning, requirements gathering, and decision-making stages, whereas in the past they may have only been notified once a decision was made. Now we’re also seeing physician representation become much more involved in broader, more holistic communication technology evaluations. This is due in large part to the wide-spread use of mobile technologies like tablets and smartphones, and how these devices can enable doctors do their jobs better. Faster access to information and easier communications mean better care for patients.

It’s clear that the best outcomes happen at hospitals that effectively coordinate across departments to steer the buying process by representing everyone involved. There is no “one size fits all” here. Sometimes creating committees or groups is best, and in other situations gathering meaningful feedback directly from each individual is most efficient. It really depends on the dynamics and culture within the organization. Either way, I’ve noticed that the success rate of enterprise-wide Spok solution rollouts is highly correlated with the level of internal collaboration during the project.

How are these types of decisions and buying processes carried out at your organization? Which stakeholders are involved? What additional integration would you like to see?