The Challenges with the “Not-Invented-Here Syndrome” in Healthcare

By | November 14, 2019

As we continue to enhance our care models and desire to deliver on value-based care, exactly how we embrace external disciplines in our pursuit of success is crucial. Often called the “Not-Invented-Here Syndrome,” (NIHS) is a situation where a profession only looks for solutions within the context of their own area of expertise. This condition plagues medicine, limits creativity and enforces a singular approach to finding solutions.

In healthcare, our leadership and educational systems rarely focus on the inclusion of outside disciplines such as behavioral economics, social psychology, social anthropology, and behavioral health. As essential as multi-disciplinary teams are in delivering high-quality care in acute situations, the same mindset must occur as we solve complex issues at the macro level. Furthermore, we pride ourselves on requesting input from others; however, we rarely embrace their suggestions. Our “syndrome” prohibits it since the creation of the idea occurs outside our normal way of thinking.

Unfortunately, the disconnect between public health and healthcare delivery is a daily occurrence. I am not saying many of us don’t think or even discuss the challenges of a person’s social determinants of health known as the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, however we are often just paying lip service and not implementing solutions. Furthermore, we claim that social risk factors drive outcomes most of the time. However, we do minimal to affect these social factors.

There are however, some entities that are considering and acting on the social challenges affecting the public. For example, public health embraces these factors and studies possible solutions. Additionally, Behavioral Economists share their knowledge, and other industries like sales and technology leverage the human condition and mindset in order to sell their products.

One reason medicine may be falling short is sometimes we are too smart for our own good, meaning we surround ourselves with like-minded people, instead of broadening beyond our industry which leads to our education being limited to a narrow context of knowledge.

As a profession, we obligate ourselves to strive towards a common good and part of this is considering and understanding ALL the factors that affect those we serve. Allowing ourselves to fall victim to the “Not-Invented-Here Syndrome” prevents us from progressing and continuing to elevate our care of those we serve.

We are a country of exceptional minds and pride ourselves on creating a better tomorrow for all. Just as we diagnose and treat illnesses and syndromes every day, let us identify the symptoms and signs of NIHS and treat them appropriately. Let us consult, invite, incorporate the learnings of other disciplines into our world, and, more importantly, let us join them. Only together will we rise to the complexities of the needs of the humans we treat and the communities in which we live. Embracing this realization will enhance our ability to move forward.