Is the health system designed to crush the creativity and spirit of health professionals?

Do you ever feel like health professional education and the health system are designed to take talented, intelligent, creative individuals and turn them into machines with no ability to innovate? Do you find yourself banging your head against a wall when even the smallest change for improvement requires hours of paperwork (that you probably submitted via fax), approval by numerous committees and months of waiting? Do you feel trapped in a health care silo? Do you feel ridiculous attending “multidisciplinary” meetings when the multiple disciplines are merely different specialties within your own profession?

If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes”, please keep reading. Last month, I attended NCDFREE Bootcamp, a global health advocacy workshop. Participants came from diverse disciplines – yes, there were health professionals, researchers and students – but there were also urban planners, film-makers, bankers, engineers, communications experts, and more. The speakers were equally diverse, leaders from fields such as branding, social enterprise, communications and public health. As well as lectures, we participated in “rapid prototyping” and breakout sessions in which small groups developed social media campaigns designed to increase the awareness of non-communicable diseases amongst millennials. You can watch a video of the NCDFREE Sydney Bootcamp here.

The event was inspiring, and left me hopeful that there is scope to innovate in health care and not be shackled by our silos and bureaucracies. I think we should be doing some “hack” or “bootcamp” type events like this in the palliative care space, to generate innovative ideas to create solutions and raise awareness of palliative care in the community.

Here are some links to get you inspired, highlighting some innovation in palliative care and related areas:

Death: Redesigned. A legendary design firm, a corporate executive, and a Buddhist-hospice director take on the end of life. This is stunning. (The California Sunday Magazine)

Global Interventions at the End of Life, a short film collaboration between the University of Glasgow End of Life Studies group, film studio Brightest Films and animation company Giggle Group. Read the blog post to learn about the process that led to the film being made!
Little Stars is a project by Mooshine Movies, to raise awareness of global paediatric palliative care. I remember their crowd-funding campaign. The movies are narrated by David Suchet, who plays Poirot on the TV (and has an excellent voice).

Dutch nursing home offers rent-free housing to students (PBS Newshour)

At one retirement home, residents run a TV channel (NPR)

“Generations”: A Walking Gallery Jacket (Generations of Caring blog by @NatriceR)

Artful times at the National Gallery for people with dementia (ehospice)

Careseekers – helping the needy get in touch with carers (ehospice)

David Kerr: Dr Uber (The BMJ Blogs)

Here’s to the palliative care innovators.

2 thoughts on “Is the health system designed to crush the creativity and spirit of health professionals?

  1. Great post Elissa, I must agree on the bureaucratic challenges faced when trying to change things in the health sector. But also equally I agree with you that there are great, inspiring examples. It seems to me that the social media revolution has exposed the health sector to more community development influences, generating opportunities for skill-sharing, while chipping away at the hierarchies that keep us “siloed”. My question is one from a pedantic social scientist. Because it seems that it “is” that way, does it follow that it was “designed” that way?


    • You are such a good supervisor, even asking the probing questions of my blog posts! No, I don’t think things were designed that way. In retrospect, it was probably hyperbole to bring in the readers (23 facebook shares already)! I think that the reason it “is” that way, is too long to write in this reply. It is a topic for another Palliverse post!


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