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Dismantling Silos in Health Care Organizations

by Paul Westerman, Advocate Aurora Healthcare
CHEF Member

Amid the COVID-19 new reality the importance of cooperation within health care organizations is recognized across the world. For a patient’s interests to be paramount physicians, nurses, administrators, support staff, and all other team members need to be unified with excellent communication channels throughout the health care organization. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, silos in communication may occur within health care systems. There are many ways of addressing those concerns that offer transferable examples that span health care organizations of different sizes, structures, and levels of care.

Silos can take many different sizes and shapes: competing goals, different objectives, internal disagreements, and many other forms. One example of dismantling them is through an ARTICLE:

  • Articulate the organization’s mission and goals
  • Represent the organization’s mission and goals
  • Transform the team’s communication
  • Interpret how the team can implement mission and goals
  • Communicate with candor in the organization
  • Learn from each other within the organization
  • Energize each other in the organization

Articulating the organization’s mission and goals is a recognizable first step for the establishment of nearly every organization. It is imperative for health care organizations. Mission and goals unite the organization and create common pride and loyalty for all employees.

Representing the health care organization’s mission and goals is an essential aspect of being a member of an organization’s team. Mission and goals can be a set of broad and overarching principles, but employees need to have expressed commitment to them even if how they will be implemented is not immediately apparent.

Communication transformation is an essential aspect of the practical application of a health care organization’s mission and goals. If demonstrable silos exist health care leaders can inquire and trace their history. When the structure and background of these silos is discovered frequently poor communication was a contributing factor to their construction. Leaders can then discern how the team’s communication ought to be transformed.

Interpreting how the team can implement the organization’s mission and goals follows when employees can articulate them and are committed to representing them through transformed communication channels. Transposing broad principles into daily activities requires clear articulation by leaders of expectations and how they will be implemented.

Within the organization, candor plays an important role in how silos are dismantled in an orderly but permanent way. Leaders and their employees need to feel thoughts, concerns, and suggestions are mutually respected and that all team members share a common sense of pride and importance in their respective roles within the organization.

Learning from each other and energizing each other are essential components for dismantling silos. Each employee is unique and carries personal and professional experiences necessary for the success of the organization. When team members feel individually unique, but sharing a common pride, the desire for silos ends. Energy naturally follows this new structure and employees will naturally try to dismantle silos that are internal barriers to their colleagues and teammates.

Patient care is paramount for all health care organizations. To achieve great patient care, silos within organizations need to be dismantled carefully but in a permanent way. When teams feel strong internal communication channels exist in their organization a self-reinforcing sense of strength will naturally follow. After achieving this state health care organizations are established as patient centered sources of excellence.

Paul Westerman is a member of the Chicago Health Executives Forum Education and Networking Committee and a Medical Education Coordinator for Advocate Aurora Health. He received his MBA from Rockford University and Healthcare Change Leadership Certificate from Cornell University. He can be contacted at

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