On the wake of the crisis precipitated by COVID-19, Healthcare is going through what is its most tumultuous time yet. The novel coronavirus has ushered a dual challenge. The urgency for survival and sustenance on the one hand, and the need to return on the growth path on the other. Be it service delivery, product innovation, tech or entrepreneurship, disruption is now the rule, not the exception. There has never been a greater need for authorities, leaders and decision-makers to manage change judiciously. Join the dots with awareness, energy and empathy to take things to the next level.
As responsible stakeholders of a progressive society, we can either leverage this change, or surrender control to its whimsies (an approach that forebodes disaster no matter how you look at it). In all fairness, the healthcare sector has been making an honest effort to reap the benefits of this frenetic transformation by improvising, innovating and repositioning itself to the best of its abilities. However, it is also fair to say that we have only managed to skim the tip of the iceberg so far.
Of all the hurdles healthcare faces (and even the staunchest optimist will agree that there are several in the system), perhaps the most exasperating is the lack of collusion and conjunction. With sectors, functions and communities still largely working in ‘independent and indifferent’ isolation (due to a multitude of reasons, of which legacy systems and traditional mind-sets feature prominently), India’s Healthcare industry is suffering from the seemingly intractable ailment of silofication.
We have to address this bottleleck, not in the future, but now. The Covid-19 pandemic is, after all, amongst the most dangerous challenges the world has faced in a long time. And it carries severe health and socio-economic consequences. Is there a way out? The short answer is yes. And the solution is called Synergy.
Synergy is defined by Harris and Moran as a cooperative or combined action, and occurs when diverse or disparate individuals or groups collaborate for a common cause and destiny. The express objective of Synergy is to increase effectiveness by sharing perceptions and experiences, insights, and knowledge.
If, on the other hand, we go by American Heritage Dictionary, we find that ‘synergy" is derived from the Greek world sunergos which signifies ‘working together’. Positive synergy has also been referred to as the ‘2 + 2 = 5’ effect. Operating on their own, entities tend to follow the standard rules of logic and generate four units of output. However, when they come together as a greater combination, their sub-systems find ways to tap into latent potential, producing five units of output.
Synergy is a powerful tool to not just make things work, but to reach one’s goals by consuming the least possible time, energy and resources (without sacrificing quality or quantity of output), or create additional value with existing resources. That is because synergy is ‘breakthrough oriented’ by its very nature. It is programmed to dissolve differences, break down silos and find common routes of forward motion. Which is why it is the perfect solution for the Indian Healthcare terrain, where the different arms - patients, providers, physicians, tech, OEM / Device manufacturers, employers, insurance companies, pharmaceutical firms, the public and the government – can work without central alignment.
Groups, teams and organizations that exhibit a higher level of synergy have traditionally stood a greater chance of success. By bringing together wisdom, experiences and concepts, they have been able to engineer creative solutions, take better decisions and even foster a culture of diversity, empathy and acceptance by engendering positive interpersonal vibes that didn’t previously exist.
A synergistic environment is able to absorb the chaos and complexities of change, utilizing and optimizing its ‘new DNA’ to instil new skills and competencies into the system – thereby making the latter more productive, versatile and responsive to change. This not only increases a system’s (it can be any system – even one broad, diverse and fragmented as the Healthcare sector) native ability to negotiate change, but indeed, helps it create unique new opportunities (in tune with its new found strengths) out of ‘thin air’, as it were. It that sense, it really is a win-win situation.
It must however be kept in mind that the mere coming together of factors – be it people, ideas, technology, infrastructure or resources – do not mandatorily generate synergy or produce enhanced outcomes. It is important, therefore, to take note of some of tested devices and approaches that have, in the past, proven successful in making synergy work:
• Analyse and apprise the terrain - both opportunity and pitfalls - clearly and avoid the temptation to rush into ‘synergystic mode’. Synergy must happen organically, it cannot be force-fitted.
• Don’t put the cart before the horse. Build a mindset and culture of synergy first, across all tiers. This may involve drastic perception and behavioural changes, so be prepared for it.
• Ensure sufficient motivation and incentive for all parties who are involved in the fray.
• Leaders must actively take up the responsibility of regularly educating and mentoring stakeholders - and suggest up-skilling & re-training wherever required – to ensure that participants ready to reap the benefits of the new synergized ecosystem.
• Engage every stakeholder directly to ensure fair and universal representation. Synergy doesn’t have impact if certain parties are dissatisfied or have grievances that have not been attended to.
• Establish clear and adequate channels of communication across tiers and levels to keep everyone on the same page.
• Ensure transparency at every stage to build trust – it is the glue that gives synergy its durability.
• Plan to ensure that competencies and energies are put to best possible use.
• Review, revise and re-align at regular intervals to prevent derailment.
The unprecedented Covid-19 situation deserves an equally unprecedented response. Once it has committed itself to a co-created ecosystem that is seamlessly integrated and intuitively led, the healthcare industry can look forward to truly unlocking its dormant potential, and take on the Corona challenge on full throttle.
For the first time in a generation, COVID-19 has accentuated the clarity of our common humanity. It is underscoring the urgent necessity of collective action across international borders, and making it clear that the world can only win this war if it operates as one unified force. This is truly a time for COVIDUNITY.
We invite leaders, stakeholders and decision-makers in the space to step forward and make COVIDUNITY a reality. Come, let us build a future-ready Healthcare Ecosystem that synchronizes visions, competencies and energies to trump the current crisis, prepare for the next challenge, and lay the seeds of a bold new era of collaborative progress.
Add your unique ideas, conviction and energy to the dynamic melting-pot of the Global Healthcare Unity Summit where progressive minds are converging to reimagine the Next Normal for Healthcare.
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