7 Effective Team-Building Strategies In Healthcare For Improving Your Clinical Operations

Oct 10, 2023 | Blog, Front Desk, Healthcare

A 2016 analysis of medical errors in the US found that “medical errors” account for 251,000 deaths per year, making it the 3rd leading cause of death in the country. Furthermore, the leading culprit of medical errors is poor teamwork, accounting for 70-80% of errors, according to a comprehensive study on human factors in patient safety.

Coordination and teamwork are crucial in healthcare, as they have a significant impact not only on patient outcomes but also on team effectiveness. A 2020 study on burnout in medical staff published in the National Library of Medicine identified poor teamwork, poor communication, and poor collaboration as factors for burnout.

To ensure that your team sticks together even when the going gets tough, you need to implement effective healthcare team-building strategies. These strategies allow your team to not only build skills but also establish trust, camaraderie, and rapport with each other — leading to overall improved clinical operations, patient intake, and the care journey.

Here are 7 effective healthcare team-building strategies you should implement with your team.

Effective Healthcare Team-Building Strategies

1. Integrate regular training

Providing opportunities for continuous career learning and development not only enables your team to stay abreast of best practices and hone their skills – it also allows them to share their expertise and experiences with each other.

How you can implement this strategy:

While training each team member according to their expertise may be ideal, you may also cross-train your team with other skills and professions. This further fosters camaraderie from understanding the role that each employee plays.

  • Conduct healthcare training sessions and refreshers (e.g., standardized forms for updating medical histories and patient information)
  • Offer workshops for collaborative, hands-on learning
  • Provide access to valuable resources for constant learning

2. Promote open communication

Communication is crucial to team success. This is especially true with healthcare teams, where even minor errors in communication can lead to significant consequences. Open communication entails listening, collaboration, and trust among your employees.

How you can implement this strategy:

Implementing strict communication guidelines may be a potential option for achieving active communication. However, it’s much more effective to instill the value of open communication in your team. You can do this by giving them growth opportunities where communicating with other staff members is vital.

  • Encourage your team members to communicate with each other, whether it’s personal or work-related
  • Conduct team outings where your team members can get to know each other on a personal level and build trust
  • Address potential concerns or issues that may hinder your team members from talking to each other (e.g., time-consuming protocols that can be streamlined)

    3. Conduct role-playing activities

    Role-playing activities are an effective method for healthcare staff to apply their skills in real-life scenarios. At the same time, these are great opportunities for your team to build trust and rapport in an engaging and productive way.

    How you can implement this strategy:

    Integrate role-playing activities into your regular monthly schedule. This allows your staff to stay sharp and establish camaraderie simultaneously for the long term.

    • Schedule at least 1-2 sessions every month for role-playing
    • Involve employees across different departments to establish coordination (e.g., collaborative customer service techniques to achieve patient satisfaction)
    • Instruct your team on vital techniques and processes like facilitating the patient intake process, appointment scheduling, and patient de-escalation

    4. Provide opportunities to voice feedback and concerns

    Some members of your team may be facing some form of tension or issue. This can be caused by your current workflow, difficult patient interactions, or even another employee. In order to dispel their troubles, you need to provide them with an open avenue to voice their concerns.

    How you can implement this strategy:

    Allowing your team to speak their mind may be challenging due to stigma among healthcare workers when it comes to their work. You can resolve this by sending regular company-wide announcements that assure and encourage employees to be open about their concerns.

    • Hold mental health seminars and workshops to teach coping strategies to your team
    • Conduct 1-on-1 with each team member to allow them to voice their concerns privately
    • Distribute job satisfaction surveys among employees to identify issues among staff

    5. Manage the roles and responsibilities of each team member

    Over the course of patient care, the roles and responsibilities of healthcare staff tend to either get mixed up or padded. This leads to confusion about what each team member must do, as well as additional stress.

    How you can implement this strategy:

    Clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of every team member ensures that your staff gets the proper workload. It also clarifies the chain of command and fosters appreciation of the value that each member brings to the team.

    • Review the original documentation (e.g., job contract, job description)
    • Observe and determine whether their current workload matches their actual workload
    • If the additional workload is manageable and matches their role, increase the salary of the team member

    6. Give regular performance assessments and feedback

    A healthcare team works together significantly better if they can see that their performance has a clear impact on clinical outcomes.

    How you can implement this strategy:

    Regular performance assessments provide your team with ideas of how they can improve. It also instills a sense of inclusion — when they receive feedback about their performance, it makes them feel like you want them to contribute more to the team.

    • Determine key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure each team member’s performance at both an individual and interpersonal level
    • Conduct regular employee performance reviews where you meet with each team member privately to discuss their performance
    • Provide suggestions on how they improve and encourage them to work with other team members for greater performance

    7. Acknowledge and reward exemplary performance

    Employees are far more encouraged to perform well if their performance is recognized. It is also reassuring if their colleagues praise them, as it makes them feel acknowledged and appreciated for their hard work.

    How you can implement this strategy:

    Implement a systematic method of recognizing and incentivizing employees who perform extremely well. You should also encourage all employees to not only perform towards a high standard but also congratulate others who work excellently.

    • Establish a threshold of both individual and interpersonal KPIs that must be met to be incentivized
    • Provide a clear roadmap of rewards for outstanding work performance (e.g., money bonuses, raises, promotions)
    • Commend your team regularly for their work and encourage them to strive for larger goals over time

    Healthcare Team-Building Is The Key To Success-Building

    Strong team cohesion, trust, and support are fundamental to clinical success. By implementing these healthcare team-building strategies, you’ll accelerate not just your team but also your clinic toward better patient outcomes and clinical operations.

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