Medical School Life

Medical students: Learn why team-based care is so critical

Timothy M. Smith , Contributing News Writer

Health care organizations can dramatically cut the number of deaths from medical error each year by taking lessons from high-reliability organizations—like those in aviation and the military—that have succeeded in preventing failures despite working in risky and complex environments.

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An education module offered via the AMA Ed Hub™ helps medical students understand the importance of teams to patient safety and patient-centered care. It also identifies the hallmarks of effective teams, explains how teams fit into interprofessional practice and describes what it takes to move to a team-based care model.

The AMA Ed Hub is an online platform that consolidates all the high-quality CME, maintenance of certification and educational content you need—in one place—with activities relevant to you, automated credit tracking and reporting for some states and specialty boards.

The free online CME module “What Makes Team-Based Care Effective?” is enduring material and designated by the AMA for a maximum of 0.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™. It is one of nine modules released as part of the Health Systems Science Learning Series.

Learn more about AMA CME accreditation.

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In a typical three-day hospital stay, a patient and family may interact with as many as 30 health professionals from a variety of disciplines, so teamwork is crucial to optimizing patient care. The National Academy of Medicine, formerly known as the Institute of Medicine, has identified five core competencies that teams should have to effectively deal with the complexities of an ever-changing health care system. 

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Provide patient-centered care. Besides relieving pain and suffering, patient-centered care involves identifying and respecting patients’ differences, values, preferences and expressed needs. This includes listening to, clearly informing, communicating with and educating patients. In addition, it emphasizes sharing decision-making and management, coordinating continuous care and advocating disease prevention, wellness and health promotion.

Create a culture of continuous quality improvement. Identify errors and hazards in care so you can then understand and implement basic safety design principles, such as standardization and simplification. Seek to continually measure quality of care in terms of structure, process and outcomes in terms of patient and community needs. In addition, design and test interventions that change processes and systems of care to improve quality.

Learn from informatics. Information technology can help manage knowledge, mitigate error and support decision-making.

Employ evidence-based practice. Integrate the best research with clinical expertise and patient values. Also, identify learning and research activities and participate in them whenever feasible.

Work interprofessionally. Cooperate, collaborate and communicate in multidisciplinary teams to help ensure that care is continuous and reliable. In its “Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice,” the World Health Organization said, “Interprofessional education occurs when students from two or more professions learn about, from and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes. Once students understand how to work interprofessionally, they are ready to enter the workplace as a member of the collaborative practice team. This is a key step in moving health systems from fragmentation to a position of strength.”

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The AMA also recently released the Health Systems Science Review book, published by Elsevier. The review book complement’s the AMA’s 2016 Health Systems Science textbook, which outlines a formal method to teach students how to deliver care that meets patients’ needs in modern health systems. More than 5,000 copies have been sold worldwide, and it is being used in over 30 medical and health professions schools. Both books are available for purchase at the AMA store.