Team Care Starts at the Top

Philip Betbeze, May 11, 2016

Team-based care at the bedside and beyond has become a goal as healthcare organizations seek to improve handoffs and care continuity. But to make that culture change stick, leadership needs to model team-based behavior and accountability.

This article first appeared in the May 2016 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Team-based healthcare doesn't work unless the leadership team also adopts that ethos.

Nancy Howell Agee
Nancy Howell Agee

So says Nancy Howell Agee, president and CEO of Carilion Clinic, a seven-hospital health system based in Roanoke, Virginia. She remembers that developing the health system's dyad leadership model, in which a physician leader and a nonphysician vice president work together to manage a group of departments, was only one part of a critical reorganization. The organization needed a hard turn toward integration of clinical, operational, financial, and strategic responsibilities as a down payment on a future where value is king. As important was recasting the way the leadership team interacts with those departments to achieve strategic and operational goals.

"We made a material change a couple of years ago wherein we divided into departments and created a physician leader (the chair) and a nonphysician leader (the equivalent of a vice president) together in a dyad leadership model," she says. "Those two-person teams are fully responsible for their individual departments across the geography of seven hospitals."

But that was only part of reengineering change management at the health system.

Words have meaning
Most every organization has a leadership team. But do the individuals really act as a team when managing the organization? Is the organization managed holistically, or does each department behave as a fiefdom?

Don't answer too quickly.

Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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