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Use collaboration to provide better team-based care

By Shannon Geis
March 13, 2017
Body of Knowledge Domain(s): Organizational Governance, Patient-Centered Care

With the push toward value-based reimbursement, using a team-based approach to patient care is one of the oft-touted ways to achieve better patient outcomes.

The goals of team-based care are to provide better service, to ensure better health outcomes, to improve the efficiency of the office and to make it more fun to go to work, says Bruce Bagley, MD, FAAFP, MGMA member, senior advisor, professional satisfaction and practice sustainability, American Medical Association.

That hasn’t been the focus for many practices in the past. “Because of the way we were paid in the past, the emphasis has been on throughput, especially in primary care,” says Bagley. But he says the “superhero model” – where the physician is entirely in charge of care – no longer works, and that a team can accomplish more than any one individual.

So how do you get a group of skilled individuals to work optimally together to provide team-based care? Bagley offers a few key tips to help your practice move to a team-based approach:

  • Be positive about the shared responsibility
  • Build trust among the team members that will all be respected for their contribution
  • Develop collaborative skills by working together and discussing the best way to accomplish a goal
  • Have clear goals and expectations for the team and for individual members
  • Have regular meetings and communication to discuss how the patient care is delivered
  • Share a vision of ideal care and keep it in focus for all
  • Cultivate a mutual sense of accountability 

Bagley particularly sees the benefit of using meetings and communication to foster the team-based approach. He recommends regular all-staff meetings where staff can discuss how to improve patient care, as well as daily huddles, which he says offer an opportunity to make sure the team is ready for the day’s work. Bagley also says a practice needs to encourage communication outside of regularly scheduled meetings to make sure that everyone on the team knows what’s going on.

Bagley says that the benefits of a team-based approach are not just for patients, who end up receiving more consistent and reliable care, but for all members of the care team, who feel that they are contributing to the success of the practice. And he says, that can help prevent burnout among clinical staff.

But don’t get discouraged if the changes don’t take hold right away. “You can’t just [flip] a switch at your office and expect everybody to do team-based care,” says Bagley. To help kick start the process, he says to identify leaders in your group who will help make the change happen.

One way Bagley says you’ll be able to tell that your staff is working as a team? When they start to say “we” and “our patients” instead of “I” and “my patients,” says Bagley.

You can learn more of Bagley’s tips in the recent webinar, “Tools and Tactics to Implement Team-Based Care,” available now on demand.

Shannon Geis, Staff writer/editor, MGMA

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