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Five ways effective teams transform healthcare


Effective teams transform patient and caregiver experience by building trust and meeting goals. Here are five ways how.

How do we create an exceptional experience for patients and caregivers?

As leaders in healthcare, finding and applying the answers to this question drives our actions. Often, providing an exceptional experience seems like an arduous task-the system is complex, the stakeholders many, and the patient’s needs diverse. Yet, at the center of any achievement is an effective team.


Investments in technology, equipment or training don’t succeed on their own. They require strong collaboration among teams comprised of individuals who trust and respect each other. Such teams rarely develop organically.

Effective teams require training and consent to exist within the organizational culture. Once established, effective teams transform the patient experience by building trust, finding solutions and meeting goals. Here we explore five ways effective teams transform healthcare.

1. Building trust

Trust begins with our day-to-day conversations. How we listen shapes the way people feel about us, and ultimately, how they determine our trustworthiness. Think about the conversations you had today. Which ones made you feel productive? Chances are it is the conversations in which you felt heard, valued, and ended with all parties knowing your common goal.

Trust depends on listening

The connection between communication and trust is present in all relationships including those between doctors and nurses and between care teams and patients. Having the communication skills to build meaningful connections leads to trust and exceptional patient experiences.

Train your care teams to identify opportunities to build trust. For example, it takes the average doctor or nurse 18 seconds to interrupt patients when they begin telling their story. These interruptions are not prompted by rudeness or callousness. Most likely, doctors and nurses are trying to be efficient with their time. However, from the patient’s perspective it feels as though they are not being heard, and that erodes trust.

If early on a doctor takes a few moments to listen to the patient’s story, then the patient feels heard and is more likely to become an active member of his or her care team. In the end, listening is a time-saving tool; it instills a trust that makes future communication easier and more efficient.

Trust makes for more effective and resilient teams

Building trust makes achieving your goals easier. Teams who trust have a clear understanding of and dedication to the mission. They will do their very best to provide exceptional experiences for patients. However, teams who lack trust will lose focus because they don’t see the shared vision. They find it difficult to give their whole effort, Also, effective teams are more resilient because when individuals trust each other, they support each other through challenging times.

Next: Preventing errors



2. Reducing errors

Fifty-percent of preventable errors result from breakdowns in communication among members of the care team. Statistics such as this are not surprising given the increased complexity of communication in healthcare. However, effective teams overcome these complexities with the following techniques:

•   Mindfulness - Often errors are caused by distractions or multitasking. Strong communicators understand that you must be present in the moment to be effective.

•   Speaking up - When team members trust each other, they are not afraid to point out errors. Effective teams disregard the hierarchy in healthcare to communicate potential risks to the patient.

3. Increasing compliance

Care teams struggle to motivate the 50% of patients who do not adhere to their care plans. Often, the solution is making the patient feel like a valued member of the team. Remember, all members of an effective team share the same vision. If patients do not fully understand their care plan, they are not seeing that vision and are compliant with the plan they understand, which may not be the best plan. Building trust and strong lines of communication with patients will help them envision a healthier life and motivate them to follow through.

Building trust and communication takes time. Compare that to the wasted resources and time spent on “non-compliant” patients; this approach is a time saver.

4. Re-energizing clinicians

Each day 46% of the physicians coming to work suffer from burnout. according to findings appearing in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. We can re-energize clinicians by restoring their enthusiasm for their work. Many entered the profession to serve others or the greater good, and effective team building relies on techniques that remind them of that fact:

•   Meaningful connections - By practicing strong communication skills you connect with others and feel present in the moment.

•   Common goal setting - When making goals with your team or with patients you feel a sense of shared responsibility and reward.

•   Appreciation - Taking the time to thank others for their efforts causes you to pause and reflect on what the team has accomplished and will give others permission to thank you for your efforts when appropriate.

5. Supporting organizational goals

As we seek greater efficiencies in safety, finance and clinical outcomes, why would we spend time and money on fostering effective teams? It is as simple as this: Even the best technologies and strategies will fall short if we do not have teams with the capacity to communicate, learn and improve.

Your return on investment comes in the form of highly engaged and adaptable team members. A staff such as that allows you to flourish and better reach your goals.


William Maples, MD. is the executive director of the Institute for Healthcare Excellence, (IHE) and chief medical officer at Professional Research Consultants (PRC). He has helped improve patient and provider satisfaction scores-and medical outcomes-at leading hospitals and health systems across the country. P

IHE is a collaboration of industry experts and thought leaders focused on improving the design of patient, family, and caregiver experiences to create an environment of excellence. The Institute is a subsidiary of Professional Research Consultants, Inc.


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