Let's talk about huddles.
They have been used to great effect in dozens of human endeavors.
From restaurant kitchens, to flight operations on aircraft carriers, to sports, we have come to understand the value of taking a few seconds as a team to review the current situation, agree on a plan of action, and identify possible contingencies.
In addition, this moment of face-to-face intimacy reestablishes the human connections among the team members.
Paradoxically, it both reinforces the chain of command and re-empowers all of the team members to call out concerns.
Health care, though, has been late to this technique. How pleasing then to read of yet another hospital setting in which it has become part of the standard work.
This report from the Saskatoon Health Region relates the story of "bullet rounds," their form of huddle. Excerpts:
It’s 11 am. In Clinical Teaching Unit (CTU) 6200, a medicine unit at Royal University Hospital, a group begins to gather near the whiteboard. Listening to the conversation, you quickly realize they are a diverse group with doctors, nurses, a speech pathologist, a physiotherapist, a pharmacist, an occupational therapist, a social worker, and a representative from client-patient access service (CPAS), to name a few.
Each are handed a list. “Good morning everyone,” says one individual. “We have 20 minutes. Let’s get started.”
For the next 20 minutes, CTU Team ‘Blue’ moves through the unit and reviews care plans for the day for patients as a team. It’s a process you will see repeated later in the hour by CTU Team Red and CTU Team Silver.
How's it working?
“The evidence (behind bullet rounds) is strong. (Daily interprofessional collaboration) decreases the patient’s length of stay, decreases hospital errors and decreases hospital admission costs,” Prystajecky says. “We also know there are other positive outcomes of collaboration including enhancing team communication and team building.”
And here's a follow-up story, summarizing with the all important continuous improvement goal:
“I am excited to see where this goes,” [Christina Sparrow, CTU nurse coordinator] says. “It’s a great process, and . . . I am excited to see how we will continue to change and improve to get better.”
Well done, Saskatoon!