Why Breaking Down Silos is the Key to Innovating Healthcare

Why Breaking Down Silos is the Key to Innovating Healthcare

When it comes to innovation, healthcare often lags behind other major industries. It’s not because of technological barriers; we have more technological solutions available to us than we’ve ever had. Big data, artificial intelligence, sophisticated sensors, and mobile technology are viewed as solutions that will improve health outcomes, lower costs, and revolutionize the healthcare experience for both patients and doctors. And yet, these advanced technologies haven’t been able to make a large-scale impact on healthcare in a truly meaningful way.

To understand the problem, it’s important to understand the complexity of the healthcare marketplace. Healthcare innovators must navigate a fractured ecosystem of diverse stakeholders who have differing objectives and perspectives. And those stakeholders too often work in silos with a narrow focus on their own organization’s goals, instead of sharing resources, data, or a broader vision with other companies.

The long-standing operational silos in healthcare make it extremely difficult to create lasting change, according to a recent article in Becker’s Hospital Review. Silos encourage episodic care and prevent providers from moving to a more holistic model that offers continuous and comprehensive services. They also impede important information sharing that could improve the life of the patient.

Data silos among hospitals, clinics, digital health devices, insurance companies, and EHR vendors create a disjointed healthcare experience and keep new healthcare solutions from evolving, according to surgeon and UCLA professor Patrick Soon-Shiong in a Healthcare IT News article.

To innovate the healthcare experience and advance new technologies that can improve outcomes and lower costs, it’s going to take a team effort. Silos will have to come down.

The Smart Health Innovation Lab was founded on that premise. Collaboration is the key to helping new technologies make a real impact in the complex healthcare market place. Through collaborative innovation, we can build a better healthcare system that connects all of the dots.

Founded by Aspire Ventures, Capital BlueCross, Clio Health, and Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine, the Smart Health Innovation Lab brings together payors, providers, and technology companies in a collective effort to help new market-ready healthcare technologies overcome the barriers to gaining meaningful adoption.

Although each founder has unique organizational objectives and faces unique challenges to achieving those goals, we recognize that a siloed mentality will only stymie our ability to overcome those challenges. And despite our unique objectives, we are united by a common goal: to improve health outcomes, lower costs, and enhance the patient and provider experience.

Bringing down silos and working in collaboration comes with a number of benefits. Diverse perspectives can help to identify areas where innovation is most needed; a network of collaborators can help innovation achieve wide-spread adoption; and sharing of ideas can influence organizations to overcome institutional conservatism.

Beyond those benefits, our founders each have unique perspectives on how collaboration benefits their respective organizations. Here are the benefits they recognize from working together:

Aspire Ventures:

As a Venture Lab that deals regularly with healthcare startups, we see again and again how healthcare silos create an extremely slow and uncertain path to market adoption for new technologies, even when the product is tested and market ready. That reality was the impetus for starting the SHI-Lab in the first place. Innovators get stuck in a catch 22 between different siloed stakeholders, with payors putting off reimbursement discussions because the tech isn’t used by doctors, and doctors not using the tech because it’s not reimbursed by payors. And even if a company gets a sale, integrating into the provider’s EMR/EHR systems can be extremely difficult because none of those systems are interoperable.

By bringing everyone together at the same table, we expedite the integration process by leaps and bounds. Not only will that help existing technologies gain faster market adoption and payor reimbursement, it will also lower risk for entrepreneurs who are just getting started. By bringing everyone together, we can point the way to a new path forward for innovating healthcare.

– Essam Abadir, CEO, Aspire Ventures

Clio Health:

Our mission to redesign the patient experience from end-to-end with a seamless blend of digital technology and person-to-person care can only be accomplished through collaboration and integration. Although Clio is not hindered by a dated legacy infrastructure, the siloes in healthcare today create a technology ecosystem that is fragmented and frustrating for both patients and practitioners. The key to Clio’s success will be through systems and technology that incorporate the unique perspectives of each stakeholder in healthcare. By working closely with payors, we can begin to transition from a fee-for-service model to a value-based model; by working closely with new technologies we can ensure that the tech easily integrates into our care continuum, and by working with other health systems we can gain valuable insight into the patient and provider experience that will guide our own design as we open our first facility in 2018.

– Todd Lord, CEO, Clio Health Lancaster

Capital BlueCross:

As the member-focused insurer dedicated to improving the health of our community, we recognize it will take stakeholders from across the care continuum working together to improve the health of our members and lower costs. For too long, data silos have impeded insurers from gaining a comprehensive, real-time view necessary to effectively create proactive programs to drive down costs and improve health status. As we shift from fee-for-service to value-based reimbursement, additional avenues of collaboration across payor, provider, and vendor lines are critical to ensure success.

The Smart Health Innovation Lab will open up new lines of communication and ways of thinking, which in turn, will open doors to new technology. This team approach and focus on innovation will help Capital BlueCross improve the health of our members, our community, and our health care system as a whole.

– Aji Abraham, Senior Vice President, Business and Network Development; Capital BlueCross

Lancaster General Health:

The healthcare industry too often focuses on symptoms, such as an overcrowded waiting room, instead of the root cause, which may be inefficient processes at multiple points. When it comes to caring for and improving the health of our patients and our communities, it’s important to appreciate just how much everything is connected. Cost impacts patient experience, experience impacts patient engagement, engagement impacts outcomes, outcomes impact costs, and so on. Yet the healthcare industry as a whole isn’t looking at the big picture, as silos among its differing stakeholders threaten efforts to achieve coordinated care that addresses all of the pressure points and truly benefits the whole patient.

A collaborative approach lets us view the problem—or seek a solution—from multiple viewpoints and capabilities. By working together and breaking down silos, we can power a new wave of innovation in healthcare for a healthier, better quality of life for everyone.

– Jan Bergen, CEO, Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine