Background: Ineffective communication among medical teams is a leading cause of preventable patient harm throughout the health care system. A growing body of literature indicates that medical teamwork improves the quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness of health care delivery, and expectations for teamwork in health care have increased. Yet few health care professions' curricula include teamwork training, and few medical practices integrate teamwork principles. Because of this knowledge gap, growing numbers of health care systems are requiring staff to participate in formal teamwork training programs. Seven evidence-based, practical, systematic success factors for preparing, implementing, and sustaining a team training and performance improvement initiative were identified. Each success factor is accompanied by tips for deployment and a real-world example of application.
Success factors: (1) Align team training objectives and safety aims with organizational goals, (2) provide organizational support for the team training initiative, (3) get frontline care leaders on board, (4) prepare the environment and trainees for team training, (5) determine required resources and time commitment and ensure their availability, (6) facilitate application of trained teamwork skills on the job; and (7) measure the effectiveness of the team training program.
Discussion: Although decades of research in other high-risk organizations have clearly demonstrated that properly designed team training programs can improve team performance, success is highly dependent on organizational factors such as leadership support, learning climate, and commitment to data-driven change. Before engaging in a teamwork training initiative, health care organizations should have a clear understanding of these factors and the strategies for their establishment.