How to Improve Teamwork in Healthcare Settings

There is no I in team, Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much…these are just 2 of the numerous sayings that exist on team work. In the healthcare setting we find teams of nurses, doctors, administrators and so many more and it is important that they work together as a team.

While it is important for these different groups to have strong team work, interdisciplinary collaborations are also important; that is, one group working with another. This can be through sharing information and ideas to better serve their patients and other stakeholders.   

Some benefits of improved teamwork in healthcare

Improving teamwork leads to better patient care. The biggest priority in a healthcare facility is patient wellbeing. With improved teamwork, staff are working together to achieve that common goal.

A better work environment. Some healthcare workers work long hours in high stress jobs. One thing that can make this worse is poor relationships with colleagues. Poor team dynamics can lead to unhealthy competition, aggression and can breed a negative work culture. However when there is teamwork, expect improved morale and productivity.

It saves you money. When teams work well together, you avoid duplication of tasks and reduce wastage of resources.

Better solutions. With improved teamwork, employees are not working in isolation. This means that they can combine knowledge to find solutions to patient care and to improving the entire workplace.

To enjoy these benefits and more, managers can improve teamwork in healthcare using these methods.

Improve communication

Proper communication is integral to improving teamwork in healthcare settings.  It is important that teams can talk and understand each other, that there are several avenues for passing messages to each other. In a healthcare setting, errors in communication can have critical results for patients and cause challenges in teams working together.

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To prevent errors in communication, instate systems like colleagues checking if the person they are communicating with has received the message as intended. One way to do this is by having the recipient repeat what has been said. If there is any deviation from the intended message, it can be corrected in the moment.

Written communication and record keeping should also be emphasised for teams to be able to go back and check for clarity if they need it. Keeping records can also help with auditing your communications.

Clarify roles

Improve teamwork in healthcare settings by making sure the division of roles is clear. Everyone should know what they need to do. By clarifying roles you ensure that no tasks slip through the cracks, you eliminate duplication of tasks, make work go faster and encourage collaboration. People will know whom to go to for what.

It is not enough to share the job description with the person responsible, to improve teamwork in healthcare settings, others should know the scope of their colleagues’ roles. These can be shared on a jobs board which can be updated with changes. Workers in the healthcare setting often work in shifts so a manager needs to be diligent in updating the team on changes that will occur on different shifts.

Not being aware of what their roles are and who they can go to for a particular task can foster disorganisation in teams.

Design spaces for ease of communication

The importance of communication can not be overstated. That is why it appears twice in this article. To improve teamwork in healthcare, consider designing workspaces to facilitate communication between employees.

One way to enhance communication in healthcare settings is by implementing a FHIR Server, a powerful technology that enables seamless exchange of patient information and promotes efficient collaboration among healthcare professionals.

Aside from the official channels of communication in place like; meetings, notice boards, employees will share information informally. And sometimes it is important information. Shared lounges and communal eating halls can offer colleagues a chance encounter to share about a study they read concerning a case at the hospital.

This design can be reflected in how office spaces are structured. According to research, team cohesion can improve when people from different disciplines work side by side. Because they spend more time together, your employees will get more comfortable with each other; comfortable enough to share and work harmoniously towards the same goal.

These kinds of close quarters account for one more thing, breaking down unhealthy hierarchies that can fuel toxic workplaces.

Make training a priority

Invest in training in order to improve teamwork in healthcare. When each member of a team has the skills and abilities required to do their job well, they can make a more meaningful contribution to the patients and each other.

Organise trainings that improve the skills of each team in the facility. For instance, there should be a training to equip nurses and another targeted to the pharmacists.

Even if all your staff are great at the technical skills needed to do their jobs, they still need to be good at the soft skills like communication, timekeeping, decision making and more. Soft skills will improve their output as well as help them navigate interpersonal relationships in the workplace with ease.

Training can be carried out by an external resource or through academic courses. It can also be done by the team members themselves. Create a system where team members can share knowledge with each other on something they are passionate about. Try and encourage everyone to participate. Sharing skills is a good way to improve teamwork in healthcare settings.

Create a supportive workplace

A healthcare facility can get very busy. It is not uncommon to find long lines and staff attending to a large group. In such a situation, even if everyone knows their role, it is better if they can help each other out to achieve the common goal.

But asking for help can be complicated for some employees. They may feel that it signals they cannot manage their responsibilities. Managers need to create an environment where people feel comfortable asking for help and can accept help when it is offered.

At the same time, managers should cultivate a workplace where people feel comfortable enough speaking up when they are overwhelmed and need additional resources to do their jobs well.

Feeling supported by colleagues can improve teamwork in healthcare settings.

In Summary

The healthcare setting is one of those workplaces where you are unlikely to find someone working alone. If a patient is received, they will likely be seen by more than one person. Healthcare leans on teamwork. For this reason, it is important for those in charge to prioritise the improvement of teamwork in this sector. 

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.