How to Adopt a Team-Based Approach

The concept of using a team-based approach within a physician’s practice has been coming up quite a bit within the medical industry. With a national focus on the importance of providing high-quality yet cost-efficient patient care, many physicians are looking for ways to work more closely—and more effectively—with nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other members of their staff.

To adopt a team-based approach within your own practice, start by taking a strategic look at the roles and responsibilities of your team members. Here are three questions to consider as you begin the process:

What Is the Scope of Practice for Each Team Member?

When moving to a collaborative care model, it’s important to define the scope of practice for each person on staff. A professional’s level of responsibility and required amount of supervision will vary based on the type of training he or she received, as well as that person’s level of expertise and past job performance.

Recognizing different levels of experience and evaluating the capabilities of each staff member is a crucial step in determining how to delegate responsibilities. Whether you’re working with a nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or registered nurse, discuss and then outline each person’s based on state law, the professional’s skills, and your patients’ needs. Consider outlining those responsibilities in a written document so it’s clear which tasks will be delegated, which can be handled autonomously, and which require supervision or consultation with a physician.

What Is My Role as a Physician?

Within a team-based model, it’s important to establish your role as a leader. Physicians receive an extensive amount of education and training, which allows them to provide a higher level of comprehensive care than nonphysician practitioners. The good news: delegating certain responsibilities will free up more time for you to focus on the tasks you’ve been exclusively trained to perform.

But you’ll still need to provide guidance, direction, and supervision to your team members. Determine which aspects of patient care you alone can address, as well as the areas for which you’ll need to continue giving your input or approval. To truly reap the benefits of a collaborative approach—including increased patient access and a more productive workflow—make sure your team members have the appropriate amount of authority to make decisions and work independently.

What Are Our Team’s Core Principles?

While each team member has his or her own responsibilities, it’s important to remember that being a team requires everyone work together. In order to create a high-functioning, coordinated work environment, make sure all team members are aware of these five important principles for team-based healthcare: shared goals, clear roles, mutual trust, effective communication, and measurable processes and outcomes.

Because teams are made up of unique individuals, your team may function differently than another practice—and have a different way of carrying out these core principles. Clearly articulate what these principles mean for your practice so everyone on the team understands how the staff is expected to work together.

It may take some time for your office to transition to a team-based model, and you’ll likely have to make adjustments along the way. But be sure you recognize and celebrate any ongoing improvements, and monitor the results over time—for instance, changes in the quality of patient care, employee productivity, and staff and patient satisfaction. By playing to each team member’s strengths, distributing the workload appropriately, and working together under common core principles, your practice’s workflow—and your patients—will benefit from a coordinated care approach.


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