Healthcare News & Insights

Teamwork counts for successful hospitals

482855199Teamwork is crucial for clinical staff – especially when it comes to positive patient outcomes.

Two recent cases show just how successful hospitals can be when promoting teamwork to give patients more high-quality treatment.

Cutting costs, boosting quality

The first case involves the hospitals that made the Truven Health Analytics 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals list. Facilities across the country are selected for this list based on their performance in treating patients for various heart ailments measured against other hospitals.

Not only did these hospitals do better than their peers when meeting quality measures relating to cardiovascular care, like mortality and complication rates, they also provided more cost-effective care.

If every hospital did as well as these 50 did, thousands of lives – and billions of dollars – would be saved.

One big factor in putting these hospitals at the top was the creation of multidisciplinary teams, per an article in Modern Healthcare. Members of the teams included cardiologists, surgeons, hospital executives and nurse practitioners. Teams attended meetings where they reviewed data, discussed how to implement best care practices and set goals to improve.

By sitting in the same room together, team members were able to brainstorm and collaborate about the best way to solve problems that affected patient care.

Avoiding alarms

In the second case, a recent study showed how hospital teamwork helped keep staff from experiencing alarm fatigue.

Staff becoming desensitized to alarms is a big patient safety concern. And to keep that from happening, researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center developed a team-based approach to reduce false alarms. The results of their efforts were detailed in the journal Pediatrics.

The approach involved a care team dedicated to making sure cardiac monitors went off at appropriate times. Members of the team replaced alarm electrodes on a daily basis and performed daily assessments of cardiac alarm parameters for each patient, keeping a log to track changes.

With this data, they started using customized alarm delays and different alarm thresholds for each patient. They also came up with a standardized method to determine when to stop using alarms for patients.

In time, the care team grew to include patients and their families, getting them more closely involved with patient care.

Using this approach over a 10-month period, the amount of alarms per patient per day went from a median of 180 to 40. And dealing with fewer alarms helped clinical staff be more vigilant about responding to the alarms they did hear.

Best ways to boost teamwork

For a clinical team to work most effectively and to bring about the best results, patients, doctors, nurses and other clinical staff must have a good working relationship. And the key to improving that relationship is better communication.

You don’t want staff to feel too intimidated to talk to physicians about their concerns regarding patients. So you want to promote a culture where clinical staff on all levels interact well with one another and are comfortable with discussing various issues relating to patient care.

And you also want your doctors to be comfortable approaching you as executives.

Here are three ways your hospital can break down communication barriers to promote teamwork among all hospital staff, from an article in FierceHealthcare.

  1. Use existing skills. Doctors and nurses are already used to communicating with patients in sensitive and high-pressure situations. Encourage them to adapt those skills to their discussions with each other.
  2. Find the right tools and language. People in different positions may use terminology that someone outside their role wouldn’t understand. Or they might understand concepts better if presented with reference materials or visual aids. Staff should keep these considerations in mind when trying to work together.
  3. Do a role reversal. The most effective way to understand how someone communicates is to get on the person’s level. Or, even better, take on a different role to appear more approachable. Organize meals where doctors serve food to nurses or events where executives perform for staff, to “humanize” employees at higher levels.

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