Why Teamwork is a Critical Healthcare Management Skill
Healthcare management experts are in charge of complicated decision-making processes that can significantly impact patient outcomes and overall organizational success. Particularly in healthcare settings, the significance of solid teamwork emerges as a critical component of effective healthcare management. This article discusses the importance of teamwork in healthcare and provides actionable steps that healthcare teams can take to improve their partnership and collaboration.
Benefits of Teamwork in Healthcare
When healthcare teams work together effectively, patients benefit from a more integrated and unified approach to addressing their health needs. Time, money, and other resources used in the healthcare industry are frequently scarce and expensive. By optimizing workflows, preventing duplication of effort, and encouraging efficient task delegation, teamwork improves the allocation of these resources. As a result, healthcare organizations see increased operational efficiency, higher cost-effectiveness, and better patient care.
Research shows that care delivered in teams can enhance the quality, effectiveness, and safety of medical care. For example, a study conducted in the U.K. surveyed 50 primary care providers (PCPs) across 12 practices. The results of the study found that better teamwork was associated with lower burnout rates. In another study published in March 2023, results revealed that higher teamwork scores for ambulatory care teams were associated with greater provider retention and a more favorable provider experience.
With regard to patient outcomes, healthcare teamwork is a critical differentiating factor. Patients often require care in a healthcare setting from specialists with various areas of expertise. When these professionals work together effectively, seamless coordination reduces errors, enhances treatment planning, and provides comprehensive patient care.
One study conducted within in-patient facilities found that patients receiving care from a high-performing healthcare team were more likely to self-report higher satisfaction. Another study revealed that teamwork had a significant impact on patient care outcomes. Specifically, patients who received care from teams with higher levels of communication, role clarity, and trust were more likely to experience less post-op pain, higher post-op functioning, and decreased length of stay.
Through improved teamwork, healthcare teams can reduce burnout, improve retention, and create more positive healthcare experiences for both patients. In turn, healthcare teams can better meet the needs of patients, practitioners, and clinic staff — while improving health outcomes for everyone involved.
How to Improve Healthcare Team Collaboration
Creating high-functioning teams requires a strong collective effort. It’s the joint responsibility of every healthcare team member to grow their teamwork skills and improve their communication. Below are five ways that healthcare teams can improve their collaboration and teamwork.
- Address aspects that hinder teamwork. To build a successful team, health centers and other practices must come together to address what isn’t working. This process usually involves getting everyone in the same room and creating a list of the things that impede successful teamwork. By addressing the aspects of day-to-day work that are hindering collaboration, healthcare teams can develop a foundation of transparency and set a direction for continuous improvement.
- Promote psychological safety. Another critical aspect of successful teamwork is psychological safety. Psychological safety is a shared belief that it’s safe for team members to take risks, express their ideas, and share their opinions without being criticized, shamed, or ostracized for it. Not only is psychological safety the number one predictor of team performance, but it also creates an environment that reduces stress, enhances productivity, and promotes job satisfaction.
- Create role clarity. Successful teams operate correctly and collaborate productively because they share a mutual understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities. When roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, team members have a better understanding of who’s doing what, and it’s easier for people to take accountability.
- Keep communication open. Open and honest communication is vital to effective teamwork. If team members can’t openly discuss conflict, voice their opinions, or share updates, then the team’s connectivity greatly diminishes. By implementing specific processes and procedures for communication and conflict resolution, healthcare teams can keep lines of communication open, making their teamwork more effective.
- Acknowledge and address implicit biases. Teams thrive when there are diverse identities and perspectives included in them. However, while it is important to advocate for diversity in teams, it is equally important to acknowledge and address any implicit biases that may arise when people with different backgrounds work together. Implicit biases are judgments and assumptions that live just beneath the surface of our consciousness. In other words, they’re beliefs we hold without realizing we hold them. When implicit biases are present, team members tend to act on unrealized prejudices and stereotypes without realizing it. For this reason, teams must take time to understand, acknowledge, and address their implicit biases. By recognizing implicit biases, teams can work to operate with more understanding, empathy, and respect.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of teamwork as a critical healthcare management skill. Delivering high-quality patient care and creating high-quality healthcare experiences relies on fostering effective collaboration among every member of healthcare teams, especially as the healthcare sector becomes more complex and interconnected. By understanding the importance of teamwork and working together to improve teaming and communication skills, healthcare organizations can improve outcomes for everyone involved.