From the Society

Ingredients for effective team-based care


  • Developing an effective process for engagement and providing a voice for all team members. Interdisciplinary team rounds where there is an established time for team members to plan and operationalize their plans around patient care can serve as an example of this type of structured process.
  • Creating well-defined roles and responsibilities with key performance indicators to promote accountability. The team will have outcomes they are measuring and striving to impact, and each team member will have a role in achieving those goals. Being able to parse out and measure how each team member contributes to the overall outcome can be beneficial. This provides an opportunity for each team member to play a meaningful role in accomplishing the overall goal and allows for a measurement process to track success. For example, an overall team goal may be to have a specific percentage of eligible discharges completed by 11:00 a.m. To accomplish this goal, there may be specific objectives for the clinicians to have discharge orders in the chart by 9:30 a.m. and for case management to have communicated with any post-acute services the day before discharge. These specific accountability measures facilitate accomplishing the larger team goal.
  • Developing a culture of safety and transparency. Effective teams promote an environment where all members are empowered and encouraged to speak and share their perspective and knowledge. Communication is based on the value it provides to accomplishing the team’s goals rather than based on a hierarchy which determines who contributes and when.
  • Defining and then redefining the competencies required of the team to promote continued development and growth. In this time of dynamic change, the skill sets that helped us get where we are today may be different then the skill sets that are needed for success in the future. There will continue to be a need for functional and knowledge-based competencies in addition to the need to focus on competencies that engender a culture of team-based care. For example, hospitalist leaders will need to understand evidence-based medicine to support appropriate management of a septic patient and simultaneously understand evidence-based management/leadership to affect sepsis care across his or her health care system.

With this change in the health care environment come new and exciting opportunities. Hospital medicine has always elected to assume a leadership role in these times of change, these periods of “punctuation.” Development of effective team-based care is a great place for those of us working in hospital medicine to demonstrate our leadership as we care for our patients.

Dr. Frost is national medical director, hospital-based services, at LifePoint Health, Brentwood, Tenn. He is president-elect of the Society of Hospital Medicine.


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