Speakers at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) 28th annual National Forum had some interesting insights about healthcare provider burnout and healthcare collaboration.
Dr. Carly Busman at Northwell Health, says they are finding that even simple team-building exercises improve "morale, communication and increase trust, which improves teamwork and productivity." And in an era when half of providers are burned out, improved morale and trust can by the clincher for everything from productivity to cost reduction.
The activities Northwell Health implemented included laser tag and rope courses. Our first reaction when we heard about it: skepticism. For busy healthcare providers facing life and death decisions in addition to family pressures, the idea of taking a Saturday morning to play laser tag seems fool hardy at best and disrespectful at worst.
So we were surprised to learn that despite the inadequate-seeming nature of these activities, they showed real benefits to the team and to the providers as individuals.
We think there are several key lessons from both the strengths and the weaknesses of this project:
- A little connection can go a long way. We are so isolated from each other as healthcare providers that even a few simple activities can dramatically improve our sense of well-being as professionals.
- Patient satisfaction comes from provider satisfaction. Healthcare is too focused on patient satisfaction and patient satisfaction comes from happy providers. This type of project proves that there are big rewards from ensuring that healthcare providers get what they need first.
- It doesn't have to be complicated. Many of these activities just amounted to the cost of pizza and soda... and high-impact team-building doesn't have to be sophisticated or expensive. That is why we made sure the iClickCare works on the smartphone, for ease of use.
- Meaningful collaboration is even better than simple team-building. Even when limited to simple team-building, this project saw results. We've found that meaningful healthcare collaboration -- in which healthcare providers have the tools they need to consult with each other, talk about cases, support each other, and contribute to patient goals together -- can have many multiples of the impact.
We applaud Northwell Health for their initiative in supporting healthcare providers in connecting with each other.
And we encourage our colleagues across hospital systems to "think small" when it comes to healthcare collaboration. Use the devices and tools available to you; try a small pilot of a new technology or practice; and don't forget that productivity usually comes from happy providers.
If you want to explore medical collaboration, we put together a free guide with tips, stories, and ways to do medical collaboration in your own organization: