7 qualities of high-functioning healthcare teams

Team-based care is one of the biggest buzzwords in healthcare today, but it's been a challenge for traditionally siloed organizations to implement. But there's much healthcare leaders can learn from teams across other industries, not the least of which includes the world of competitive sports.

This past week's Final Four Men's and Women's NCAA National Basketball Championships illustrate a nearly perfect example of teams' executing on principles named by the Institute of Medicine as representing the basis of team-based healthcare, according to an article from MedCity News.

The elements of both high-functioning basketball teams and healthcare teams alike include the following:

  • Shared goals
  • Clear roles and responsibilities
  • Mutual trust
  • Reliable execution of the game plan
  • Ability to adapt quickly
  • Individualized coaching
  • Continuous learning

Adaptability, in particular, is an area healthcare teams should strive to improve, noted author Ted Quinn. "The outcome of a basketball game can change in seconds--this is the same in healthcare. A static plan is not an option," he wrote. "The team needs to be ready to adjust and do so quickly. In healthcare the state of play needs to be visible to all team members and they need to be able to make adjustments to the plan in real-time; it should always be a 'living plan of care.'"

In addition, it's instructive to look at data about the healthcare markets in which the Final Four happen to have their main campuses, as the differences illustrate the uniqueness of our health system's challenges, noted Paul Keckley, Ph.D., in a post for Navigant Healthcare's Pulse Weekly.

Despite the similarities of each market, such as rapid provider consolidation and being home to several large employers, their differences boil down to the same (un)common denominator: utilization.

Utilization is influenced by three core factors, he continued--population health, available health services and risk sharing. Reconciling these factors depends on teamwork as well, among not just healthcare providers but with payers and communities at large.

"The traditional thinking is that all healthcare is local," Keckley wrote. "The effectiveness of a community's healthcare system and its relationships with payers is not an issue just for the industry: it's a matter central to community's long-term viability."

To learn more:
- read the article
- read the post