Healthcare is a Team Sport

“American health care operates with levels of unreliability, injury, waste and just plain poor service that long ago became absolutely unacceptable in many other industries.” – Dr. Donald M. Berwick, President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)

If you’ve read anything about Moementum, heard us speak, or attended one of our workshops, you know that we support the development of businesses and initiatives that have a positive impact on the common good for our Central Oregon community. With the complexity involved in applying and integrating the Affordable Care Act and the changing demographics of our region, we are applying our skillsets and experience in service of courageous leaders in this industry.

Change is rolling through the healthcare sector like a tsunami. Research on the state of the industry is mixed, but one thing is for sure, success going forward will be tied to providing positive patient experiences and efficient workflows which require extreme team engagement. That’s why we’re working to expand our reach into the realm of healthcare. Healthcare really is a team sport. Here’s what else we know:

Healthcare in the U.S. is unwell. Hospital mistakes kill an estimated 98,000 annually, making it the third leading cause of death in the United States. Healthcare costs per capita are the highest in the world and yet results place the US 16th in longevity, according to a recent NPR report.

It’s not only patients that suffer. According to ComPsych, a national provider of employee assistance, “Healthcare employees placed the highest percentage of calls for stress and anxiety by industry, at 11.2 percent. Juggling work and personal life prompted many of the calls, with 18 percent reporting that as their reason for seeking guidance.”

The healer may be the problem.

“The clinician operating in isolation is now seen as undesirable in healthcare—a lone ranger, a cowboy, an individual who works long and hard to provide the care needed, but whose dependence on solitary resources and perspective may put the patient at risk.”

Getting healthy. The people receiving care, in addition to being patients, are beloved parents, children, siblings, and/or spouses. Everyone recovering from an illness or injury seeks a full recovery. Healthcare that holistically supports patients and their families achieve higher patient compliance, (i.e. better outcomes) happier practitioners and, positive reputations. Research on customer experiences constantly reinforces that good experiences are shared, bad ones are broadcast.

Healthcare is a team sport. The complexity of modern medicine in the information age is daunting. By joining forces and combining resources, leading healthcare professionals are beginning to recognize that all of us are smarter than any of us. Some benefits linked to the team approach are: “reducing medical errors, improving quality of patient care, addressing workload issues, building cohesion and reducing burnout of healthcare professionals.”

Building teams. Teams require cohesion and communication; rarely will both spontaneously appear. We all know that relationships require an investment in time and effort. Great teams are fundamentally the same. It takes intention and attention: to the people, the relationships, and most importantly, the goals. A good team without goals is a party—everyone’s having fun, but not much gets accomplished. At the center of the team is the patient. Patient-centered care does more than advocate for the patient; it involves them in their care.

Key Principles                                          Shared Values

– Shared Goals                                          – Honesty

– Clear Roles                                             – Discipline

– Mutual Trust                                            – Creativity

– Effective Communication                         – Humility

– Measurable processes & outcomes         – Curiosity

Get started. Any improvement process starts with assessing your current situation. Understanding patient satisfaction and staff engagement are great beginnings. There are surveys available, or you can go “old school” and have 1:1 conversations. Find out what is working and what is not. Pick one to three opportunities and begin. Here’s the best part—involve your team in seeking and implementing solutions. It starts the ball rolling and increases teamwork skills together.

Jim Morris