Building Effective Teams in Healthcare
Despite efforts to break down barriers to communication and collaboration in healthcare, recent reports have found that many hospitals are still organised in silos according to their clinical specialties, which may lead to poor communication with other institutions. This calls for healthcare providers to rethink the way they organise teams in order to foster collaboration that will enable them to offer the highest standards of patient care.
The reports said that the solution to these problems is to shift focus away from the structure to the activities of teamwork and stress on fluid, collaborative, interdependent work across shifting projects and with a mix of partners across organisational boundaries. Further, it is important for healthcare leaders to build communication and decision-making infrastructures that foster departmental interaction and teamwork.
Patient-care tasks require real-time integration of various skills and expertise, and the on-going operations of hospitals require sophisticated coordination across shifts. Patients may interact with a number of different caregivers during an average hospital stay. Conducting a CT scan, for example, can require people in different clinical roles to do a unique task, all of which must come together. One approach to this is that each expert carries out their task at a time and in a manner that optimises the department’s efficiency. Or experts coordinate their actions to optimise the whole procedure and minimise patient discomfort.
Also, non-physician partners are an integral part of successful healthcare team building and can help foster interdepartmental communication and merging complimentary skills to eliminate redundancies.
The reports have highlighted seven qualities of successful teams that include shared goals, clear roles and responsibilities, reliable execution, ability to adapt quickly, mutual trust, individualised coaching and continuous learning.
Leaders play an important role in creating safe environments in healthcare by emphasising the risky and uncertain nature of the enterprise and by asking thoughtful questions. This builds more psychologically safe workplaces, which in turn foster more learning and quality improvement in their teams.