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Essay: Team-Based Healthcare: The Benefits of Working Together

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  • Published: 1 February 2018*
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Team-based Healthcare

Rubin Wise once wrote, “It is ironic indeed to realize that a football team spends 40 hours each week practicing teamwork for the two hours on Sunday afternoon when their teamwork really counts. Teams in organizations seldom spend two hours per year practicing when their ability to function as team counts 40 hours each week” (3). This quote encompasses the time and effort put into working together as a team. While medical providers may not be seen as an “team” in the way professional athletes are, they put in an extensive amount of time to perfect our craft each day not to perform at intervals on a certain basis, but to do so on a daily occurence with more stakes on the line than just a trophy. Team-based healthcare allows for a vast array of healthcare professionals to interact in order to provide the best outcome for each patient.

Today’s society has a vast number of teams that collaborate and work together day in and day out, so that we may not just settle an equilibrium, but to acquire and achieve greatness, so why would a team-based approach to healthcare be any different?

In a 2005 study, Eduardo Salas and his colleagues published an article outlining the “Big Five”

characteristics that create a productive environment for an efficient team in accordance to healthcare. The five components described were “team leadership, mutual performance monitoring, backup behavior, adaptability, and team orientation” (2). Built basically as a “fool-proof” system, one would be able to find the greatest outcome for each patient scenario, regardless of circumstances with these characteristics. Team leadership is the ability to coordinate the team’s activities, ensuring that tasks are assigned accordingly  evaluate performance, provide feedback, enhance the team’s ability to perform, and inspire the drive for high-level performance.

Team-based healthcare is defined as “the positive interaction of two or more health professionals, who bring their unique skills and knowledge, to assist patients/clients and families with their health decisions” (1).

An interprofessional or team-based approach to health allows for practitioners, like myself, to be involved in the bigger picture in a patient’s outcome. I, personally, find myself as a perfectionist, striving each and every day in class to learn everything myself, to memorize everything for myself for the future so that I may not rely on others to complete a task. But I know it is impossible to know everything for every situation at any given time. With a team-based approach to healthcare, I am able to push myself to the uppermost extent of what my knowledge will suffice, but I know that if I forget something or ever need help, I have others to support me and are also striving for the same goals. Now I know it seems that all the knowledge is a personal vendetta I put to myself to be the best student and eventually the best provider I can be, but the end result is the best quality outcome for our patients. Like said before, the “melting pot” of medical personnel allows for “working with colleagues from different professional groups to ensure any patient or client receives the care from the most appropriate individual while working in a collaborative manner that respects each person's individual skill base and knowledge” (1).

With the team-based healthcare approach, I can assure myself and my patients that they are getting the best quality healthcare possible, from all aspects and specialties when they need it.

  While a team-based approach to medicine is proven to have higher efficacy and best outcomes for patients, the development of a fully functional team takes time. Just as a child growing up, you never became friends with someone and the initial instant you met, it took time to develop a bond, the same type that is required for each team in healthcare to be successful. In order for a team to become effective and consistent in their practice, “common understandings of patient care need to be established so that patients receive consistent and evidence‐based information and practice” (1).

  In conclusion, the best quality of healthcare is best achieved through the team-based approach. This approach allows for the “melting pot” of personalities and unique attributes to strive for the desired outcome of every patient. While flaws such as the timing needed in order to achieve full team development may cause the path to veer off course or become delayed, the majority of individuals contribute in their respective ways to achieve the highest quality for the patients they see on a daily basis. In order to provide solution to the disadvantage of team-based healthcare, “it will be very important to understand better ways to encourage utilization of evidence‐based guidelines to maximize the best outcomes for patients” (1). One way to implement evidence-based medicine is through teaching and studying prior to being exposed to individual problems patients may face so that each team member has similar approaches to how an outcome can be achieved. Working as a piece of the puzzle in today’s healthcare model, healthcare professionals strive to implement multiple personalities and an extensive knowledge into a team of like-minded individuals solely striving to give the best care for each of our patients.

1.  Medves, J., Godfrey, C., Turner, C., Paterson, M., Harrison, M., Mackenzie, L., & Durando, P. (2010). Systematic review of practice guideline dissemination and implementation strategies for healthcare teams and team-based practice. International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare,8(2), 79-89. doi:10.1111/j.1744-1609.2010.00166.x

2. Salas, E., Sims, D. E., & Burke, C. S. (2005). Is there a “Big Five” in Teamwork? Small Group Research, 36(5), 555-599, https://doi.org/10.1177/1046496405277134

3. Wise, H. (1974). Making Health Teams Work. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 127(4), 537. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1974.02110230083014

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