Leadership on Point

Disrupting Healthcare: The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts

December 22, 2017 Richard Levin

 

The business of healthcare is ripe for disruption. Especially conducive to change is the stubborn practice of building or adhering to silos that don’t adequately encourage collaboration. In healthcare, silos foster the continuation of tenacious traditions that fail to acknowledge the patient as a wholistic being, like separating dentistry from the rest of medicine or viewing departments or specialties as if they are disconnected from the larger organizations of which they are part.

Disrupting healthcare requires that we regard the business and delivery of health services as an ecosystem with unique complexities. An ecosystem presumes that its diverse parts interact and interconnect. In an ideal ecosystem, silos still exist yet they intentionally and pliably intersect.

One of the peculiarities of healthcare is that its consumers – patients – typically have to acclimate to the system, rather than most contemporary perspectives of customer care that presume the system should adapt to the consumer – one of the primary tenets of patient-centered healthcare. Admittedly, most commercial companies have a long way to go toward becoming fully customer-centric. But it is not hard for consumers to identify companies that are the most customer-friendly, like Nordstrom, Ritz Carlton, Amazon, Trader Joe’s, and Apple. In other words, it is possible to stand out and thrive as a consumer-centric organization.

 

 

“Stress on the system” is one of the primary reasons healthcare leaders are seeking to disrupt healthcare. Stress is increasingly pervasive, threatening safety and quality as a ripple effect throughout the healthcare ecosystem. Leaders under stress often “unload” on their followers, showing characteristics of anger or “bad behavior”. The stress then rolls downstream, with followers then confronting others in the system: for example, doctors provoking nurses, nurses challenging administrators, administrators yelling at patients or vendors, and so on, until someone goes off the rails and the system begins to wobble. The ecosystem is frequently more stress-centric than patient-centered, often because the parts are greater than the whole and because the various components don’t work together to create a seamless system. Human resources departments often seek coaches for remedial rather than developmental interventions, and administrators frequently hire management consultants to repair the system.

Executive coaching ties all of these components together, using cross-trained management consultants and executive coaches who work together to address the human, organizational, and business dimensions of an organization. Coaching also encourages the implementation of concepts like the Harvard School of Dental Medicine’s “Practice of the Future”, in which physicians, dentists, dental hygienists, pharmacists, nutritionists, and other practitioners work seamlessly under one roof on behalf of the patient.

With the assistance of concepts like Executive Coaching, interlocking pieces of the healthcare ecosystem connect a patient-centered focus with system dynamics to create a lower-stress, more cost-effective, and more efficient healthcare business.

Richard Levin & Associates is proud to partner with healthcare and human service organizations through leadership coaching and consulting to help bring this disruption to the field so that they can best serve clients and patients.

 

Richard Levin & Associates