A leading cause of medical errors and patient harm is communication failure. Daily huddles that promote quality improvement initiatives are a step towards improving patient safety and quality outcomes. Huddles offer care teams a short and efficient platform to discuss scheduled patients, review performance, proactively flag safety concerns, and increase accountability. When daily huddles are combined with technologies that provoke timely actionable insights for better care, everybody (patients most importantly) wins.
When one thinks about huddles, their mind may instantly go to the inpatient setting where information is transferred at change of shift. Let’s think outside that box and discuss how huddles can be used to improve outcomes in an outpatient setting. These huddles should take place at the beginning of the day to review the scheduled patients. Using this time to anticipate care needs and special situations, team members can support each other through the day.
We know what hasn’t worked in the past. A care team that doesn’t plan or communicate will continue to see the same reduced care standards they’ve always seen. The physician convenes with the patient only to scroll through tabs of information looking for open care gaps. The visit time disappears before the patient has the chance to express their driving health concerns. Once again, an unplanned and uncoordinated visit results in diminished health outcomes as well as patient and physician dissatisfaction.
What if technology provided resources to the care team that could be discussed during a 10-minute stand up meeting every day. These care planning resources serve as day sheets and provide direction to the huddle while also driving action on each of the scheduled patients being seen that day.
Incorporating daily care gap reports into the huddle allows patients to be identified prior to their check-in on outstanding screenings, vaccines, or other measures. ReportingMD’s Total Outcomes Management Platform provides an easily accessible report of current day patients with open care gaps, which allows providers to close those gaps at the point of care versus trying to schedule return visits for patients.
A successful huddle that effects change and outcomes improvement should occur in a quiet space without chance for interruption and where everyone can be focused. Patients are identified on the schedule with chronic diseases, preventative care gaps and a solid understanding of what tests, labs or screening should be ordered. Creating a report of these items allows for the provider to enter the orders ahead of time, allowing the patient appointment to be more face to face and ensuring the order doesn’t get missed. Patient visits can be re-focused on listening to patient concerns. Over time, quality and safety improvement initiatives are addressed through effective use of technology and effective communication across the care team.