In Employee Health (EH), teamwork is critical to patient safety. Experts are only beginning to recognize the role of teamwork in promoting healthcare worker safety. For example, a recent study found that hospital units where there is a high level of teamwork (as compared to units where there isn’t), staff members experience fewer workplace injuries. In the study, injuries included documented cases of needle sticks, slips, trips, and falls, and accidental exposures to bodily fluids. 1
With all of this in mind, what steps can be taken to define shared goals, develop effective workflows and strengthen communication among EH staff?
Encourage Staff to Align Common Goals
In EH settings, teamwork is usually regarded as looking at steps to align around common goals in patient care and workflow. Also, involving staff in improving workflow processes and paying close attention to data is equally important.
When presenting some common goals, here are some things to ponder establishing within EH teams:
- Define shared goals such as measurable operational objectives and standards of care.
- Develop effective workflows, including agreed-upon evidence-based standing orders (e.g., urinalysis for upper urinary tract symptoms, pneumococcal vaccination).
- Divide labor with clear task definitions and role assignment. Practices with well-defined teams may recognize that medical assistants (MAs) can play, and want to play, a larger role in the workflow beyond “checking the vitals.”
- Provide training so team members understand their respective roles.
- Strengthen communication structures such as informal face-to-face gatherings of the clinical team (or “huddles”), as well as processes for sharing feedback and resolving conflicts. 2
Join Forces to Improve Teamwork
Considering such steps reveal opportunities for process improvements. In many instances, EH staff members are able to implement standing orders (within appropriate regulatory and legal guidelines). Not only can it help ease the burden on nurses and other staff members, it can also lead to improvements in how frequently recommended screenings and patient vaccinations are provided.
In addition, where there is strong teamwork, practice members can work collaboratively in support of colleagues’ remaining current with their vaccination schedules and adhering to safety protocols. By regarding teamwork as a collaborative effort where everyone is involved, EH departments can feel fully supported and unified in the work that they do.
Learn more about how Net Health Employee Health can help your EH department and empower workers to unite in their team efforts. Find out more by scheduling a demo.
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1 National Library of Medicine, “Management Commitment To Safety, Teamwork, and Hospital Worker Injuries,” November 17, 2016.
2 National Library of Medicine, “Overcoming Challenges to Teamwork in Patient-Centered Medical Homes: A Qualitative Study,” February 2015.