Scientific discoveries, next-generation technology solutions, medical advances, payment reform, and new models have the potential to dramatically transform health care delivery. Staying at the forefront of innovation requires constant vigilance, and for health care leaders, it requires an understanding of the latest opportunities and challenges, as well as their potential impact.
In this article, we will try to share the latest trends and innovations in healthcare industry and the transformational effects on the industry by using these management tools and techniques.
Teams, Work and Teamwork
The concept of a team is indeed broad – it is something that exists any time two or more people are working together with a shared purpose. The way teams are designed depends greatly on the task that needs to be performed and when and where it is being performed. However, despite the broad definition of a team, there are some common ideas. For instance, when people are working in a team, they have particular responsibilities that relate to their own specific skills and knowledge. One individual is always the leader, and this is agreed upon by the team or those who created it.
In healthcare, teamwork is the ongoing process of interaction between team members as they work together to provide care to patients. The researchers found that while teamwork and collaboration are often used as synonyms in casual discussion, they are not synonymous. Critically, the researchers identified inter-professional collaboration as both a process affecting teamwork (and, in turn, patient care and health provider satisfaction) and an outcome in and of itself.
Teamwork requires an explicit decision by the team members to co-operate in meeting the shared objective. This requires that team members sacrifice their autonomy, allowing their activity to be coordinated by the team, either through decisions by the team leader or through shared decision making. As a result, the responsibilities of professionals working as a team include not only activities they deliver because of their specialized skills or knowledge, but also those resulting from their commitment to monitor the activities performed by their teammates, including managing the conflicts that may result.
How Teamwork is Effective in Healthcare?
Members of effective teams have faith in their ability to solve problems, are positive about their activities and trust each other. They can determine areas for improvement and reallocate resources to do so. And, of course, effective teams are often self-evident because they produce high-quality results.
In healthcare, these include improved patient outcomes and cohesion, and competency or stability for the team itself. In healthcare, studies have suggested that teamwork, when enhanced by inter-professional collaboration, could have a range of benefits. Although the link is far from definitive, it appears that teamwork and team composition could have positive effects, particularly in quality and safety. These include;
- Reducing medical errors
- Improving quality of patient care
- Addressing workload issues
- Building cohesion
- Reducing burnout of healthcare professionals.
- Improved communication and partnership among health providers and patients
- Clarity on the role of all health providers
- Better response processes in addressing the determinants of health
- Improved coordination of healthcare services
- High levels of satisfaction on the delivery of services
- Effective use of health resources
The Advantages of Teamwork/Collaboration in Healthcare
While you may enjoy and appreciate amiable teamwork among your health care colleagues, your patients rely on your ability to work together. Efficient and effective teamwork provides benefits for you, your peers and your patients. Your workplace becomes more enjoyable and productive when you’re able to operate as a team, safety issues are reduced and retention rates increase. At the same time, patient care improves with seamless teamwork.
When health care providers work as a team, they can be more responsive to changes as they occur. When a patient’s condition worsens, the team looks to the leader, knowing that each person on the team can fulfill his respective duties and work with others to solve problems. Trust develops in a cohesive team, increasing confidence in your partners, knowing they will fulfill their duties during a crisis. Nurses, doctors and assistants working as a team tend to make fewer mistakes, leading to improved patient outcomes.
Patients are more satisfied with their care when health care professionals collaborate. The health care team and the patients experience less stress when members of the team fulfill their duties, knowing their counterparts are working toward coordinated goals. When the roles are clear among team members, there is less confusion about patients’ treatment plans. At the same time, when communication is clear among the team, patients also experience greater clarity about their treatment and expected outcome.
Teams that are highly involved in treatment plans and service delivery tend to be more efficient and utilize resources better. When health care providers adopt the team approach to medical care, mirroring the success achieved in other industries that employ teamwork techniques, facilities become more competitive and save money. With strong team leadership, efficiency is realized even more when health care teams are empowered to design their work plans according to their skills and resources.
Team members are more effective health care providers when they work together because they tend to learn more about what role each member plays. You need to understand the duties of each team member to work together effectively, increasing your own skills as duties often overlap. As part of the team, you come to understand and appreciate the roles of physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, social workers, physical therapists and administrators as you communicate and work together in the best interests of the patient.
Management Challenges and Opportunities
At the level of health system management, the most serious challenges to inter-professional collaboration include a lack of designated responsibility for ensuring collaboration takes place. History and tradition can serve as barriers as people often want to perpetuate the status quo, either to stay within their comfort zones or to protect vested interests.
Ineffective communication can also be a critical barrier, unless multiple strategies are put in place to ensure effective communication within and between professions, as well as vertically within the institution. Finally, while project-based funding for collaboration can stimulate change at the project level, it does nothing at a systemic level, often making it difficult, or impossible, for change to become permanent and sustained.
To overcome the challenges at the organizational level, the experts recommended accreditation systems that outline clear requirements for inter-professional collaboration within organizations. In addition, they felt that dedicated funding for inter-professional collaboration would support a transition to, and ongoing review of, collaborative practice. Also, more could be done in the area of intra-organizational knowledge transfer to help organizations share what they know about the results of research, demonstration site activities and learning projects.
The empirical evidence from high-risk work environments tells us that collaboration and teamwork is a way to produce high-quality results. In the health workplace, the evidence for inter-professional coordination and effective teamwork continues to grow. One of the most critical tasks facing researchers, managers, policy makers and clinicians will be to work together to create, share and use all forms of evidence, including methods and techniques for effective and ineffective implementation. The path toward effective teamwork in healthcare will probably be difficult, but it is one that all stakeholders, particularly patients, are likely to demand both more frequently and vocally.