4 ways Google would improve team-based healthcare

Google HQ

Google's Mountain View, Calif. headquarters  (courtesy photo)

The secret to a successful healthcare team isn’t necessarily who the members are, but rather how they work together.

That’s the message from two Google executives, who outlined a strategy for healthcare leaders to create effective teams that will improve patient outcomes.

Henry Wei, M.D.
Henry Wei, M.D.

“At Google, we have found that psychological safety leads to better team results,” write Jessica Wisdom, Ph.D., people analytics manager, and Henry Wei, M.D., benefits medical director at Google in a blog post for NEJM Catalyst.

And that means team members feel free to provide their input without fear of embarrassment.

To create a safe environment that will inspire a learning culture, the authors offer several pieces of advice for healthcare leaders, including:

1. Evaluate your current teams: Watch how the members interact to determine what they do well and what needs improvement. The most effective teams are small and share common goals. If your teams don’t have mutual accountability and interdependence, they may not produce the most effective results.

2. Look for warning signs:  Are members afraid to ask for or deliver constructive feedback? Do they feel comfortable brainstorming with one another or discussing mistakes?

3. Take action to build psychological safety:  When members disagree, urge them to use the phrase “what I heard you say” before they make their points. Make an effort to acknowledge other team members' contributions in front of the entire team.

4. Create a different meeting model: The authors note that teams that meet for daily huddles report higher levels of psychological safety.