Interdisciplinary teamwork: Share your successes

The Physician Leadership Forum is proud to introduce the PLF blog. In addition to news posts and upcoming events, we envision the blog as a conduit for our subscribers to interact with one another. To facilitate discussion, we will be posting a new question every two weeks. John R. Combes, MD, Senior Vice President, American Hospital Association, starts the discussion by answering this week’s question:

What are some positives/challenges you have found to working in interdisciplinary teams?

Dr. Combes: During the AHA’s Physician Leadership Forum session on team-based health care delivery at the Health Forum Leadership Summit, we heard from three different organizations on how they were able to successfully create interdisciplinary teams in order to improve patient outcomes and achieve cost savings. These organizations formed interdisciplinary teams in three different arenas – management, inpatient care, and outpatient/chronic management. Initially, these organizations had to overcome some common obstacles – poor communication, not being held accountable for outcomes, lack of trust in the data, lack of trust in each other. Each organization had a different approach when it came to solving these problems. The team from Brigham and Women’s Hospital used simulation lab exercises and trips to a local art museum to improve trust, communication, and value the different points of view among team members. Marquette General asked their doctors to help them understand where the data needed improvement in order to encourage joint ownership of the data. AtlantiCare employed daily team huddles and the use of real-time data to close holes in communication and feedback.

Each organization was able to achieve success through one common theme – respect. Once respect was established, the teams began to flourish. Communication improved. Satisfaction scores among the interdisciplinary team members improved as well as patient satisfaction. Errors, length of stay, mortality, readmissions and costs were all reduced. A lot of positives can be realized when forming interdisciplinary teams. As health reform takes shape, the need for well-coordinated teams will only increase and the examples highlighted at the PLF event in July are only the beginning. 

We invite you to share some of your success stories and challenges with us below.

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