What Healthcare Executives Must Know About Managing Top Primary Care Teams

If you want to contain costs in healthcare, one of the primary tools is primary care. Catch problems early enough and you can resolve them more quickly and economically. Manage chronic conditions effectively and the total cost of treatment costs. Health issues can more likely be handled by the most logical level of the system, with specialist practitioners and resources.

Creating a great primary care team is challenge enough for many providers. There may be virtual teams created for specific patients. Some members of the team may well work for different organizations and not one hospital. According to a review of studies, say researchers from the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, care organizations have only an emerging understanding of how to create high-functioning primary care teams.”

After examining 119 articles and 11 white papers, they found some interesting results. There are a number of barriers to productive teams. While there is a level of conflict, almost by definition, in any strategic decision making, the conflict is between ideas or courses of action. Where teams can fall is if conflict becomes interpersonal, blocking the decision process.

  • Team members lack trust in one another.
  • Members may fear conflict, which means they will have difficulty addressing problems.
  • There may be a lack of commitment to the team, instead treating it as more of an ad hoc group.
  • People may avoid responsibility for their own actions and those of the team.
  • Inattention to results can undermine the entire undertaking.

Proper management can help. “When managing interpersonal conflict, skillful decision makers focus on issues, not people, by means of facts, references to common goals, humor, and a sense of fairness exhibited through balanced power structures and consensus,” the report said. There can also be systemic issues that hinder proper team function. Here are some of the common issues:

  • Organizations, especially as human life is involved, can be risk adverse to new care models. Legal liability further complicates the situation.
  • The nature of experimentation can make it difficult to properly engage care professionals.
  • Multi-discipline approaches to care planning can be difficult if information is not freely shared.
  • Although physicians have specialized medical expertise, nurses and other workers may know more about the patient.
  • An imposed hierarchy among staff can stifle collaborative learning.
  • Constant mental exhaustion can hamstring professionals. In addition, physicians often find it difficult to allocate the necessary time.Frequent changes, such has shift switchovers, patient transfers, and other duties can disrupt care continuity.
  • The larger the team, the more complex the process of developing teamwork.
  • There may be no direct financial incentives for team-based care.

Taking on these challenges will require a blend of expertise in healthcare with a thorough knowledge of management theory and how to develop potential solutions.

Are you interested in finding a rewarding and lucrative healthcare career that fits your individual strengths and interests? Find out how education can help you adapt to the changing healthcare landscape. American Sentinel University is an innovative, accredited provider of healthcare management degrees, including an MBA Healthcare and Master of Science Business Intelligence and Analytics.

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