7 relationship characteristics of successful PCMH teams

April 25, 2012

How can you keep the peace in a medical home with diverse stakeholders? This list of relationship characteristics of successful teams shows you how to create a happy work home.

New Orleans-One of the greatest challenges of adopting a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) may be building a diverse care team that works well together.

A session at the American College of Physicians’ annual scientific meeting here last week showed how it can be done successfully by teaming up strangers to play the many roles of a PCMH, including physician, nurse, and medical assistant.

The point: By understanding each player’s function and setting actionable goals, you, too, can be part of a winning team.

“It takes a while for a team to jibe. Those first few meetings can be rough,” says Carole Warde, MD, of the University of California-Los Angeles, who led the session with colleague Hector Rodriguez, PhD, MPH.

To ease the process, they developed this list of seven relationship characteristics of successful PCMHs:

Trust.  This quality may seem obvious, but as participant Jose M. Baez, MD, of Naples, Florida, explained to his group during the activity, it may be difficult to believe you can depend on others, especially if you’re the subordinate. “I’m the team leader, but I’m also part of the team,” he says.

Mindfulness. All team members need to be present and curious at meetings and in their work.

Heedfulness. Team members must understand their role and complete tasks to the full extent of their certification.

Respectful interaction. Team members need to be honest with each other, show appreciation for others’ work, and be confident in their own work and opinions.

Diversity. Everyone must be aware of different opinions in the group and acknowledge minority opinions. As participant Elizabeth Paulk, MD, of Dallas, Texas, put it: “Good communication is at the root of patient safety. Even if others’ opinions irritate me, I can embrace them if it’s best for the patient.”

Social and task relatedness. Conversations between team members need to be a 50/50 discussion of personal and professional issues and concerns, Warde says.

Rich and lean communication. While incorporating electronic communications with the traditional phone and face-to-face methods, ask yourself, “Is this method appropriate?” Warde says. Got a problem with someone? “Pick up the phone and call [him or her]. This is not something to email about,” Warde says.

Warde says she hopes physicians take back one message to their practices:  “A PCMH is all about relationships.”

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