Small team meetings are a great way to both improve communication between staffers and set goals to deal with problems at the workplace, whether it’s in a hospital or a more traditional office. For example, the Boston Medical Center internist teams meet every Friday morning to talk about issues specific to their groups, and once a month all of the teams come together for a larger meeting for big announcements and to celebrate successful efforts. Such meetings help break down barriers and make improvement projects more effective by giving different team members a stronger voice in the decision-making process.
In addition, meetings offer all team members a chance to show why certain changes are necessary; for example, the physician might not know why the front desk does things a certain way, and vice versa. Team meetings are a great way to clear up any “mystery” with that. Poor communication is a major problem in a hospital workplace, and practice managers sometimes offer directives that are unclear, unspecific or don’t properly convey the urgency. On average, ineffective communication takes up 40 minutes of an employee’s day, costing about $5,200 a year for each staff member at a large hospital.
The American Medical Association has a “STEPS Forward module”, which offers several ways for practice managers to effectively structure and schedule meetings. These include scheduling meetings when patient care is least likely to conflict, limiting group size to make sure everybody has a voice, keeping meetings focused on the issues at hand and sticking to a consistent agenda. For projects coming out of practice meetings, assign a point person who will coordinate the efforts and then report back to the group later. But also make sure that you conduct regular follow-ups on goals and issues discussed during these meetings.
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