Nine Paths for Improving Teamwork in a Hospital Setting

By Ashraf Amin, MD, MBA, CPE
November 24, 2017

It all comes down to ensuring everyone is committed to the same goal of providing quality health care. 

Teamwork among the members of a hospital can result in better patient care and a more enjoyable work environment, if everyone remembers that the main goal is the same: quality health care.

  1. Better patient care. Priorities are necessary in hospital settings. Just because a doctor has been employed by the hospital for many years, it does not mean that his patients, lab work or demands are any more important than those of other doctors, or other members of the staff. If proper teamwork regulations are in place to establish priority, better patient care will result and the hospital will be a less stressful environment.
  2. Improved patient safety. When teamwork is implemented in a health care environment, the patient becomes an active partner in his or her own treatment. Doctors and nurses listen, monitor and execute, based on the patient's feedback and information. This, in turn, creates a safer environment for the patient in terms of medications and unnecessary procedures.
  3. Quality work environment. People who work in a hospital know how to manage high-stress situations, but frustrations can build. Working as a team will reduce situations where an employee feels overwhelmed by his or her workload or the temperament of an unpleasant staff member. Compassion and common courtesy are appropriate not only when communicating with patients, but also they are vital components in how you treat your coworkers.
  4. Cost-cutting benefits. Teamwork will not only cut down on duplicating efforts within a hospital setting, but also it will cut costs. During tough economic times, hospitals and health care providers decrease their number of employees to save on costs. If everyone does his or her job in an efficient manner and is aware of the needs of other staff members, he or she can contribute to the overall morale. If, for instance, he passes by the lab on the way to another department to pick up something for a co-worker, he will instill a sense of camaraderie in that employee and make her want to do the same for others.
  5. Stress reduction. When many health care professionals collaborate and brainstorm about a patient's care, the workload is distributed more evenly and stress is reduced. This will also reduce burnout in doctors and nurses working long hours and seeing many patients.
  6. Improved communication. Effective teamwork skills rely on basic communication within departments and among all personnel. Often, different floors, wings or buildings of a hospital can seem like they are worlds apart, yet they all have the same goal. Using the intranet, regular staff meetings and high-priority emails will keep all members of the team updated on current policies, parts of the team that are short-handed and any aspects of the job that need fine-tuning.
  7. Effective time management. In the health care industry, teamwork equals efficiency. In so many medical situations, time is of the essence and solid teamwork will enable medical teams to manage their time more effectively. More patients will receive better care more often.
  8. New skills. When physicians and nurses who specialize in different areas are working in proximity and communicating regularly, they are bound to learn new skills and expand their medical knowledge. If a heart specialist, dietitian and oncologist get together to share ideas for treatment it can only benefit all involved.
  9. Increased job satisfaction. When everyone is working together as a team to accomplish a common goal, results will improve and people will be more satisfied with their professional lives. When doctors and nurses work as a team and see patients get better faster, they will experience a heightened sense of pride and will look forward to going to work more each day.

Ashraf Amin, MD, MBA, is a senior executive and consultant with Promo Health in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This article was originally published in August 2015.

Topics: Management

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