Helping patients by improving team performance

Nurse Leader Insider, July 28, 2016

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At the American Hospital Association Leadership Summit in San Diego, two hospital leaders, Terri Poe, CNO and senior associate vice president at University of Alabama Hospital, and Patricia Tietjen, vice president of medical affairs at Western Connecticut Health Network and Danbury Hospital, shared some insights about how they were able to overcome obstacles and create improvements by empowering their staff.

Both leaders faced challenges in their hospitals around overcrowding and poor patient progression. In order to improve, their teams had to get organized and empower their team to make decisions and come up with creative solutions. Here are some of the tips they took away from this process.

Get leadership on board: The presenters said that the first issue was convincing everyone there was a problem. Getting board members and executives to see the problems and understand that they couldn’t just throw more beds at the problem was instrumental. Another important aspect was getting their nurse leaders involved as well; they helped set the tone to the changes each hospital needed to make.

Establish an environment of communication and joint problem solving: Once decision-makers were on board, they worked to create a team environment that valued everyone’s input. University of Alabama Hospital instituted an integrated huddle that included the whole healthcare team, not just nurses and physicians. This led to improvements throughout the hospital, and instilled a sense of accountability with the entire staff.

Create standards and provide feedback: After establishing their cooperative environment, the hospitals sought agreement on hospital standards, creating daily compliance checklists, multidisciplinary rounds, and improving communication of responsibilities. Additionally, the facilities provided clear performance feedback for all members of their team to make sure everyone stayed on the same page.

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