What Made Us Lose Creativity In Healthcare?

Creative bulb

Since my attendance at the Mayo Innovation Transform Conference 2015 I have been thinking about creativity in healthcare.

In my travels, in my conversations, in my observations I have been capturing pictures, drawings, and artifacts to help me consider the question.

What has made us lose our creativity in healthcare?

At first glance I find that many jump on the bandwagon that the healthcare industry is regulated, it deals with human life, and our ability to be creative could be at the loss of a human life.

Aside from that fact, I continue to hear and observe that we do not have the time, the ability, or the incentives to be creative. We have limited resources and dollars for research and studies, so we need to prioritize accordingly.

Based on my own experiences and observations, I believe the majority of people working in healthcare have been trained to follow the rules, color inside the lines, and to follow the leader.

To what end?

To scale more mediocrity? To adopt more shiny widgets? To add more complexity? To move us further away from human interaction and building relationships?

Most of our technical and business acumen in healthcare is built over the course of 16-20 years of education. It begins with elementary, middle, and high school. We start out by copying the alphabet to learn how to write. We are taught how to follow the lines, the rules, the “i” before “e” except after “c” for spelling. We move on to spending time memorizing things like Planck’s Constant or the Pythagorean Theorem. As we continue to move along and progress we get into more and more ways to memorize, follow more rules, and to always stay inside the lines. We are taught more to listen, copy, and regurgitate than we are to be inquisitive, deconstruct, and explore.

The system spends 20 years teaching us how to follow instead of how to lead.

The same is true for our physicians. Four years of medical school followed by residency and potentially a fellowship to spend 8 or more years of being told how to follow more rules, memorize more items, and to forget the art of healing people.

Our system wants us to be good little cogs so that it can continue to run, produce care, and generate dollars for those that follow the rules.

We reward RVU’s, productivity, following guidelines, checking the boxes, and filling out forms.

We have an industrialized system of healthcare.

Instead of a Madame Curie trying to figure out how to see inside of our bodies to allow us to further heal people, we have the minds of Toyota showing us how to produce more of the same with little improvement delivered to the lives of patients.

We scale mediocrity.

I see new artists playing on the fringes in healthcare. These artists are helping healthcare professionals become comfortable in being creative, coloring outside the lines, and how to create new things.

The artists and ruckusmakers are helping other healthcare professionals take the time to ask questions. Questions that move us from showing us how others do things and why it worked for them to a deeper understanding of what they had to do to make it work and the reason why it worked. Questions that reframe the problems so that we can get to the root causes.

Creativity is imperative to the future of healthcare. Creativity moves us from accepting symptoms as the reason why and pushes us to understanding and defining root causes.

Creativity allows us to make “things” (physical items, models of care, reimbursement models, etc) that are beneficial to the end user, the intermediary, and to the system.

Creativity doesn’t optimize more crap.

Creativity delivers an answer to a root cause.

It delights us.

It changes our world view from “what is” and delivers “what can” be possible.

This is to Dr. Bon Ku (@bonku), Jose Gomez-Marquez (@jfgm), Rose Anderson (@_Rose_A), Samantha Dempsey (@samanthademps), Ciara Taylor (@ciaramichelle), Meredith DeZutter (@meredithdez), Nick Jehlen (@NickJehlen), Allison Matthews (@aksmatthews), Andres Marquez-Lara (@andresvavz), and Mario Schlosser (@mariots).

For your willingness to color outside the lines, break the rules, getting comfortable with the uncomfortable, and your need to understand the root causes of problems. (I am glad I am not alone in changing the status quo)

Thank you for bringing creativity back to healthcare and showing the community that putting #MeInMedicine delivers the #MyIdealPtExp which delights us all.

[If you have not watched their videos yet, please do so at the following link: Transform 2015 Speakers Video)

As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or follow me on twitter @cancergeek



3 responses to “What Made Us Lose Creativity In Healthcare?

  1. Well said!! I couldn’t agree more. Sadly I think the culture of fear in our Healthcare system permeates too and overrides any creative spark along with good old common sense. As one who is often uncomfortable, and ‘outside of the lines’ it’s encouraging to find a soul mate who’s willing to do the same and talk openly about it. Here’s to more courage for putting #MeInMedicine, which is for the benefit of us all now, and the future Health workers who inherent the legacy we set now.

  2. I will say as a person who has been on both sides of the experience, I enjoy & gravitate towards the professionals who are creative & out-of-the-box thinkers as well as the refreshingly straight shooters over the same old same old grinders & absolutely by-the-book types. I always enjoy hearing what you have to say Andy. You make so much sense & are such a breath of fresh air to the hc space as a general rule :). I find the creative types make it much more pleasant & easy to navigate a rather complex system. They also have their people’s back when it counts which is worth its weight in gold. Keep fighting the good fight. I’ll be coloring right alongside πŸ™‚

  3. Dear Andy, thank you for sharing your thoughtful reflections and call to action to be more creative. You are definitely not alone, and thank you for the shout out πŸ™‚ It is an honor to be coloring outside the lines with you and others πŸ™‚ I agree 100% about the need to be more creative in health care. To create more creative systems we need to create environments for people to explore the emotions that come with uncertainty, failing, etc. These are systems made up of people, and to change these systems, we need new ways of thinking and feeling. This requires creating safe spaces for experimentation, and not just experimentation for technical solutions, but for new ways of playing with and dealing with the anxiety, ambiguity, and ambivalence that comes with uncertainty. And we can begin doing these small experiments right away! With our colleagues at work we can be curious and ask questions about how they feel about uncertainty and creativity. Over lunch, we can invite our lunch mates to play a game and imagine what would we do different in the day if we weren’t afraid of failing or losing our jobs? And explore what gets in the way? There are countless ways to start. We can create pockets of safe spaces to spark conversations throughout our communities. Start enough of these fires at different levels of the organization, and we might have the opportunity to have a wildfire of creativity, empathy and curiosity πŸ™‚

    Eager to be on this journey with you, Angela, Nikki, and many others πŸ™‚

    Warmly, Andres
    Founder & Passion Catalyst
    Promethean Community

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