Ensuring permanence, and effective meetings

By Ann Kirby, MSN, MPA
Managing Director
Huron Healthcare
Huron Consulting Group
Lake Oswego, OR

To maintain stability and effectiveness in meetings, the following steps should be considered.

1. Provide training and positive reinforcement for all participants.

The importance of training and reinforcement for all participants can't be emphasized enough.

For a new pattern of communication to be hardwired, consistently holding interdisciplinary meetings and conducting them in an efficient and effective manner is imperative. Team members must feel the benefit of the meetings to them personally, in addition to the benefit to their patients, to keep coming to the meetings. Be certain all participants understand the goals of the meetings and how they can personally contribute in a positive manner to the team and the quality of patient care.

Provide an outline of what each discipline should be prepared to discuss so that everyone knows what is expected of them and their colleagues. Consider starting with just a couple of patients and practicing until the team is able to concisely focus on the plan for the day, plan for the stay, and issues and barriers that need to be resolved. Keep increasing the number of patients until all are discussed.

The role of the facilitator is especially important to assist others to see value from the discussions. The facilitator must keep the group on point, assist with problem solving, and ensure follow up is completed.

2. Provide meaningful metrics.

Metrics to assess the effectiveness of interdisciplinary collaboration might apply to all patients (e.g., education completed in a timely manner, accurate predictions of discharges, transportation arranged in advance) or to specific populations (e.g., antibiotics within a specified time frame, patient on a beta blocker, patients with diabetes able to demonstrate accurate insulin administration).

Leverage existing documentation tools such as electronic medical records and case management systems to capture the required data elements that then can be downloaded into a report. Avoid duplication of data entry, and make sure data collection is part of work flow/documentation standards. Strive for automated reporting so that metrics are readily available to monitor sustainability and guide ongoing improvement efforts.

3. Quality review process.

To ensure that the effectiveness of the interdisciplinary meeting is maintained, a quality review process should be put in place. Evaluation of multiple aspects of the meeting can be observed and scored to help the teams and patients continue to benefit from the coming together of the care team. Possible items to monitor include: participation from identified disciplines, timely start and completion of the meeting, member preparation to contribute, appropriate challenging by the facilitator of the team with questions, and completion of follow-up items and a report the next day.