August 2, 2022

What makes a great care team?

Whether it’s the workplace or a doctor’s office, Harvard Business Review revealed the conditions for great teamwork. Why this matters in the hospital Collaboration has become increasingly important in our personal and professional lives. Yet, it may seem like every day we hear about another team member quitting, being fired, or simply disappearing into thin […]

Whether it’s the workplace or a doctor’s office, Harvard Business Review revealed the conditions for great teamwork.

Why this matters in the hospital

Collaboration has become increasingly important in our personal and professional lives. Yet, it may seem like every day we hear about another team member quitting, being fired, or simply disappearing into thin air.

It hits close to home when we see a doctor we love leaving a practice. A child life specialist choosing to leave the field. The Harvard Business Review claims that teams fall apart when they lack proper collaboration and they fear conflict and disagreement. This ends up with one common stressor: working alone to achieve a shared goal.

The solution

A great team starts with four things: A compelling direction; a strong structure; a supportive context; and a shared mindset. These four ingredients form what I call the solution. When put together properly, they create a solid foundation upon which you can build a successful care team.

Consider the power of parent and pediatrician collaboration that involves not only the problem, treatment, and outcome, but includes:

  • a shared compelling direction that is spoken out loud and agreed upon by both parent and doctor
  • a strong structure that includes a plan for both parties to follow up in a specific amount of time
  • a supportive context that removes shame and judgment on both ends of the conversation
  • a shared mindset that this is a collaborative approach – it is not reliant on just one person

But even if you have those four elements, there are still many ways in which they can go wrong. And when they do, it makes teams vulnerable to problems. So how do we know whether our solutions are working? Here are some examples:

  • a parent can share freely that they are struggling to remember to give their child medicine without the fear of judgment from the doctor
  • nurses can compassionately show parents how to properly assess and react to problems
  • physicians have gained the trust of parents to know they have a shared common interest in their child’s health

Why parents are the heart of the team in pediatrics

In some cases, parents and the care team that cares for their child are more diverse, dispersed, and dynamic than ever before—and those characteristics mean collaboration becomes even harder. With virtual care, sometimes the relationship is even spread across geographies, organizations, and functions. They might only see each other once a year. In many cases in the hospital, parents and care team members are complete strangers. As a result, struggle to connect, communicate effectively, and collaborate successfully.

Parents are the heart of the care team in pediatrics because they are the one constant source who sees all parts of the medical journey process from beginning to end. Parents are the consistent voice of the child, notetaker, medicine-giver, billing specialist, and most significantly, they are the most important person to the patient – their child.

What is the outcome of parent involvement?

When parents are equipped with the tools to collaborate, the whole team wins. The bare minimum of tools required includes a basic understanding of:

  • the diagnosis
  • shared vocabulary with the care team
  • understanding of what to expect
  • their role in the treatment plan
  • the psychosocial effects of the issue on their child
  • a support network to rely on

What else would you add to this list?

 

 

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