New Rule for Patient Care Collaborations: There’s No ‘I’ in ‘Team’

Thursday, March 6th, 2014
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

“Take your provider hat off and put on your patient hat for a moment. Do you feel as though you’re at the center of your own healthcare team, or that your mother or child has a healthcare team around them? Do you even feel as though there is a healthcare team?” asks Teresa M. Treiger, RN-BC, MA, CHCQM-CM/TOC, CCM, CCP, president of Ascent Care Management. Here, she lists the elements necessary to build an effective patient care team.

I always use the phrase, “There is no ‘I’ in the word ‘team,’” and it’s really true. True teams are precious; high functioning teams are a real rarity. I know there are organizations that deliver excellent team-based collaborative care, but it’s not a common occurrence because the concepts of teamwork are not necessarily covered in everyone’s curriculum or training. Nurses, social workers and allied health all come up within the perspective of being part of a team, but that is not codified into the curriculum at every institution.

Then we have to consider the patient. Supposedly the patient is at the center of the care team, but right now the center, I think, is a convenient place for the patient to be because then everyone can get their hands on them, so to speak. However, the patients that I speak to across the country are not feeling the love. They’re not feeling like they’re at the center of anything.

To demonstrate this, take your provider hat off and put your patient hat on for a moment. You’re all patients at some level, or your loved ones are. Do you feel as though you’re at the center of your own healthcare team, or that your mother or your child has a healthcare team around them? Do you even feel as though there is a healthcare team? If you can shift your perspective there, you can see where patients are not feeling that love necessarily.

Team building takes a tremendous amount of the time. It takes collaboration, it takes everyone at the table being accountable, and it takes everyone at the table being able to trust the other people sitting across from them. It’s not something that you can just decide to have — “Well, let’s have a great team.” It takes time. If anyone has worked in an emergency room, when you have a group of people working together on a shift that just clicks, when you know you can count on those people, that’s the kind of energy and positive interchange that I’m talking about when I talk about teams. That takes time; it didn’t just happen on day one. Trust is something that builds over time; similar to the interest on your bank account.

Excerpted from Case Management in Value-Based Healthcare: Trends, Team-Building and Technology.

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