Healthcare in 2020 is a team sport, especially within hospitals. An inpatient experience requires an array of healthcare professionals’ knowledge and expertise; but why is it important to work as a team? And how do you contribute as an individual? Keep reading to find out more about improving healthcare through teamwork!
What exactly is teamwork?
A team can be defined as ‘a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold each other mutually accountable.’
As healthcare has evolved from just one all-knowing local doctor who treated all the patients in the village to now large scale university hospitals, with multi-professional, multi-locality treating hundreds of patients a day – forming the need to function as a team is a core skill of any healthcare professional on top of their clinical expertise.
So, when you work alongside your colleagues, don’t just think of your own job role, but how your activities can support others and vice versa.
Why is teamwork so important in healthcare?
Healthcare is complex. It requires the coordination of a range of expert and specialist individuals to provide high-quality care. With people living longer and chronic diseases increasing it needs a high functioning team to not only provide better patient outcomes, but also to improve the working environment for the medical workforce.
The quality of teamwork is essential to job satisfaction, engagement, productivity and most importantly, patient satisfaction and outcomes.
To consider patients, each patient assumes that every single person involved in their care pathway will be working as a joint team. When it becomes evident that this is not the case, confusion and mistrust are added to existing emotions such as worry and fear, not placing their physical health on a great foundation.
To consider staff, when they are well supported by their colleagues, they experience a reduction in the potential negative outcomes that come from providing patient care. In turn, strong co-worker support and strong morale will be displayed throughout the department.
Working together to provide the best healthcare is a given, but what steps can you take as an individual part of a busy wider team to ensure you are a valuable asset? Here are our top tips to improving healthcare with teamwork…
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The Pillars of Improving Healthcare with Teamwork
When responsible for the care of another person, communication is paramount. To demonstrate, if you’re a doctor or nurse handing over a patient at the end of your shift, it’s absolutely essential that every single detail is clearly communicated. This should always be done in note/chart form as your colleague who takes over your shift has black and white evidence of previous actions – as with a verbal exchange, they don’t! If something is missed about a symptom, it could be life threatening…
By ensuring great communication both via written evidence and verbally, you’ll ultimately limit the misunderstandings and conflict. In addition, it also allows your team members to communicate if they are feeling stressed and overwhelmed – allowing you to step in and provide support.
Get to know your valuable team members
When improving healthcare effectively, trust is everything and the best way to grow trust is to become comfortable with each other.
The concept of trust in healthcare is essential because of the level of uncertainty and risk that comes with caring for a wide range of complex health conditions. So, you must have trust the knowledge, expertise and competence of your colleagues.
Trust can be defined as the ‘firm belief in the reliability of truth or ability of someone or something’. So, whilst your work involves busy shifts and your attention is constantly demanded, what you don’t want is a situation where you don’t know your colleagues enough to ask for help.
The best way to avoid this is to schedule in time with each of your team members, whether that is during lunchtime, before a shift or afterwards! A few minutes chatting over a cup of coffee or some food can do wonders.
Not only will this help build friendships, but it will also allow you to become comfortable with each other to ask for assistance with tasks, supporting each other’s own mental wellbeing, collaborating and take patient care to the next level!
The Ability to Adapt
Whilst it’s important to have a clearly defined set of tasks and actions to complete per shift, whether that is discharging a patient or getting blood test results back, the very nature of healthcare is that nothing is rigid.
Due to a patient’s condition being able to rapidly change or an emergency case comes into the department, you should be willing to quickly adapt, cross the lines of responsibility if that’s what’s required to save a patient’s life. However, to do so collaboratively, you must learn how to enhance your colleagues work and experience by communicating and you got it – working as a team!
A Final Word
To summarise, multidisciplinary teams within an acute setting have the potential for improving healthcare, the patient experience and most importantly, outcome.
Whilst the exact team structure will vary from trust to trust, hospital to hospital and even ward to ward, medical teams can be united through their shared principles, common goals and clear lines of accountability.
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