Tearing Down Silos: How Rebranding Can Transform Healthcare Culture

Leaders know that collaboration equals progress. A diversified workforce that overcomes the invisible barriers of departmentalization or status is a true indicator of employee engagement. To get from a state of disconnection to one of internal alignment and collaboration, leadership must first break down the silos that have long separated the various factions of an organization and create a united culture.

In the healthcare environment, for example, professional silos have traditionally isolated and separated organizations. Defined by skill, experience, responsibility, and even by age, these silos discourage collaboration. Administrators govern. Physicians heal. Nurses care. Therapists treat. Scientists discover. They are distinct in their roles and their cultures. Their training is different. They go about their duties differently. They often use a language unique to their work. They share the same building, but are divided by walls — physically and mentally. Not only in many cases do physicians, therapists and other specialists work independently of each other, researchers who may be a part of the same system work in isolation.

The damage caused by these silos can be significant. Breakthroughs brought forth by researchers, and the clinical studies that follow, might be revealed to the academic medical community before they even make it down the hall to the physicians and therapists who could put these breakthroughs to work for their patients. Likewise, concepts and observations that physicians develop based on actual cases may not back it back down the same hallway to the researchers whose projects could be advanced by this knowledge.

Isolation is for disease, not people. Separation equals frustration. It isn’t good for the organization — not for the medical professionals who seek to advance it, or for the patients who depend upon it.

Make Unity a Priority

Today and tomorrow, unity needs to be a priority for healthcare leadership. That means bringing people together. A shared culture, mission and vision. A shared purpose and a shared pride.

The best way to express a renewed culture and more personalized level of care is through rebranding. Bringing care and people together increases collaboration, generates innovative treatments, sparks discoveries and improves outcomes. That kind of hope needs to be communicated, both internally and externally. Rebranding delivers that message in the most powerful, effective manner available. It can create a new culture of advocates, both within and outside an organization.

How Nebraska Medicine Turned 10,000 into One

Separate and unequal is a condition that can infect even the most successful organizations spanning the corporate, academic and medical worlds. Older, established staff can put up walls of suspicion and mistrust of newly-hired, younger staff, both their motives and their methods. Long-term leaders can allow departments and divisions to erect silos without realizing that, once the mortar is dry, these dividers can be difficult and painful to remove.

The larger the organization, the greater the challenge to bring down the silos can be. But, it can be done. Uniting 10,000 people as one is precisely what happened when three prominent healthcare entities in metropolitan Omaha: The Nebraska Medical Center, Bellevue Medical Center and UNMC Physicians, formally joined forces as Nebraska Medicine.

Rebranding Nebraska Medicine was much more than a cosmetic update. The process, and the new brand that resulted, had to unite departments and separate entities by overcoming both physical distance of a widespread campus, and the perceived differences between the physicians, researchers and medical staff that had formed over a period of decades.

Listening to Every Opinion

Combining separate entities into a single clinical organization is a painstaking process. It requires a comprehensive strategy. And while the vision for the organization has to come from the top leadership, the opinions and perceptions gathered during the research and analysis phase of a rebrand are the precious gems that help boost the new brand’s value.

In the Nebraska Medicine project, extensive interviews were conducted across all levels of the organization to determine specific opinions about The Nebraska Medical Center’s current brand, its relationship with its affiliates, the Bellevue Medical Center and UNMC Physicians; and its relationship with UNMC.

More than 40 key stakeholder interview sessions with dozens of participants were completed. These “deep dive” input sessions included:

  • Employee focus groups
  • Clinical enterprise Board of Directors
  • Senior leadership
  • UNMC Physicians Board of Directors
  • Clarkson Regional Health Services
  • Bellevue Medical Center Board of Directors
  • Medical staff leadership (chairs and chiefs)

Stitching Together the Threads

From the hundreds of opinions obtained, distinct common threads began to emerge. To advance, a new culture of one entity, one organization, one team had to be created. These common threads helped solidify the commitment to rebranding as one united clinical enterprise.

Rebranding was the tool that brought the silos down. The resulting collaboration between physicians and researchers has been an incredible benefit to the organization, and the people it serves.

The design team at Daake had several crucial roles in the rebrand. We helped develop the “Nebraska Medicine” name, and we created the dramatic, unifying symbol that is used by both Nebraska Medicine and its longstanding partner, the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). We also designed and implemented a host of collateral materials including internal and external communication tools.

The resulting brand identity successfully builds upon Nebraska Medicine’s legacy, while the dynamic symbol illustrates the proud Nebraska heritage and the global mission shared by Nebraska Medicine and UNMC.

Read how Nebraska Medicine was able to bring ten thousand people together as one.

About Daake

We are brand design experts who deliver transformative ideas to the nation’s marketing professionals and CEOs as they seek guidance, clarity and excitement for their brand.

We would love to hear more about what you have in mind for your next project. Call Greg Daake at 402.933.1094.

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