Healthcare News & Insights

6 steps to transform your hospital’s bedside care team

As value-based reimbursement models grow in popularity, it will be even more crucial for members of your hospital’s bedside care team to work well together to provide high-quality, efficient patient care.

medical team discussing resultsThe American Hospital Association (AHA) recently released a white paper discussing the future role of the bedside care team.

With all the changes to health care, bedside care teams must adapt to new expectations. Primary care will become the major focus of the healthcare system, so patients will be expected to have shorter, less frequent hospital stays.  Instead of visiting the hospital if a chronic condition worsens, most patients will likely visit the hospital only if a new, life-threatening condition arises without warning.

This means care teams must work to provide a different type of care to patients, care that strives to provide targeted treatment for a specific issue.

Changing with the times

To make these adjustments, said the AHA, several changes need to occur within a bedside care team.

One important shift: Instead of one leader, such as a physician, making all decisions related to a patient’s care, the new bedside team needs to use a more collaborative decision-making process. Multiple leaders will have their say in how to best care for patients, and the opinion of patients and their families counts, too.

Along with this adjustment in leadership, bedside care teams must adhere to six basic principles to make this transition a smooth one:

  1. The patient and their family members are essential members of the core care team. The preferences of patients and their family must be given sufficient weight in medical decision-making. This includes any cultural beliefs that may affect a patient’s care decisions. Bedside care teams must look at the patient as a whole, considering any circumstances that may inhibit his or her recovery and finding workable solutions.
  2. Bedside team members are fully engaged at the broadest scope of their practice. Each staff member on your bedside team must be encouraged to take ownership of their role in care delivery. Hospital execs should work to foster an environment where all staffers are respected, and are free to make suggestions to improve collaboration and quality of care within their scope of practice.
  3. The bedside team is focused, highly effective and autonomous, coordinating communication with the patient/family. Bedside teams must contain diverse professionals who can fully manage all aspects of a patient’s treatment. The roles of staffers must be complementary and balanced, and the team must be an independent unit that can meet the needs of multiple patients effectively. It must provide personalized care while still meeting efficiency standards. And each team member must be able to relay info to patients and their families in a way that’s relevant, straight-forward and easy to understand.
  4. Evidence-based guidelines that improve care are developed and consistently followed by every bedside care team member. Instead of sticking with the status quo, new ideas to transform care delivery must be implemented and followed by each team member.  Example: Divide up clerical duties relating to patient care among all members of the team, leaders included. This lightens the load on each member of the care team, which allows staffers to spend more time on patient care. Plus it equalizes the playing field, encouraging teamwork while getting rid of the feeling that any person is “above” these tasks.
  5. Technology replaces some clinical tasks, augmenting decision-making and complimenting the clinical judgment of the care team. The use of electronic health records (EHR) systems and other technology can automate some processes, freeing up the bedside team’s time to provide more comprehensive care to patients. Technology can also help the team keep better tabs on patients’ conditions, alerting them to potential issues before they arise (e.g., medication conflicts).
  6. Patients needing acute care move safely through the healthcare system no matter where they are in the care cycle, whether at the onset of disease, in the middle of community-based care, or at the end of life. Implementing the first five principles naturally leads to the sixth. Hospital execs must continue to do their part to promote a culture of safety and transparency within their hospital. Teams should be encouraged to come forward with any mistakes or issues they’re aware of, and staffers should work together to solve them instead of rushing to assign blame. This will decrease patient complications caused by preventable errors and improve care delivery overall.

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