Today’s guest post is written by PatientsLikeMe Vice President for Advocacy, Policy and Patient Safety Sally Okun, RN, MMHS.
Getting health care can often feel like you’re trying to put together a difficult jigsaw puzzle, only to find that some of the pieces are missing. Even under the best circumstances, navigating the health care system is challenging for patients like you and your caregivers. Worse, when health care is provided in an uncoordinated and fragmented way, the quality of care and patient safety can be compromised.
These are all reasons the idea of “team-based care” is gaining momentum, and emerging as an important factor in helping patients better manage their conditions. For the past year, I’ve been honored to be part of a working group commissioned by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to write a discussion paper on this topic.
Our team, made up of health care professionals and leading academics from the University of Washington, American Medical Association, Rush University Medical Center, American Academy of Physician Assistants and American College of Clinical Pharmacy, pulled together all that we learned during our monthly meetings, interviews with teams from around the country and input from national experts on “team based care.” The result is a co-authored paper, published this week, by the IOM.
Among the goals we have at PatientsLikeMe is to amplify your voice – the patient voice – in relevant and system-changing initiatives and bring what we’re learning back to you. As I share with you now the five hallmarks of the most effective teams, I want you to know that much of what we discussed is how you, the patient, are at the center of these teams. Your needs, preferences and concerns are central to the team’s work.
So, what do you need to assemble your very own “A Team” for healthcare?
Shared and well-defined goals: Patients like you and, where appropriate, family members or other support persons, must work to establish shared goals that reflect your priorities. Be sure your goals are understood and supported by all your team members.
Clear roles: Each member of your healthcare team has specific responsibilities. Clear roles help all members of the team share the load, so the team can accomplish even more together than one can accomplish on their own.
Mutual trust: To reach your shared goals, it’s really important for you and the members of your team to earn each other’s trust. Without this trust among the team it can be difficult to work well together
Practiced communication: Good communication takes practice and even the best teams continuously work on ways to improve this. With all of the tools we have to communicate today, be sure your team knows what you prefer – in person, on the phone, via email or text, etc.
Measured processes and outcomes: As you and your team create your healthcare plan, be sure it includes ways to measure how well you’re doing on meeting your goals. This translates to better care, and potentially, better results.
Note: The IOM working group was honored that the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) asked it to contribute a Viewpoint piece on team-based care, highlighting the role of the patient on teams. You can see the Viewpoint piece, published today, here.