#healthcareinnovation Thursday

Teamwork and communication are fairly simple concepts that we know are important in health care. Research shows they are the right thing to do — for improving patient safety, increasing value and bolstering resiliency. And they are critically important elements for improving infection prevention and control outcomes.

But achieving effective communications in an ever-changing, highly complex health care environment is not easy.

Time, hierarchy, lack of clarity and the idea that things have always been done a certain way are some of the many reasons why health care teams aren’t always at peak performance.

Each TeamSTEPPS tool has three short — about two minutes — videos: one video to explain the teamwork and communication tool, one to illustrate its correct use and one showing opportunities for improvement.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus more than ever before the need for teamwork and communication. Health care professionals, both clinical and nonclinical, have to monitor the unfolding situation, make quick and well-informed decisions and mutually support each other. To help support health care teams and get everyone on the same page, TeamSTEPPS — Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety — is a practical, evidence-based set of communications tools developed over decades. It’s been implemented successfully across hospitals and health systems and is now taking on an even greater role with infection prevention and control teams as COVID-19 continues to spread.

On-Demand Teamwork Tools for All Care Settings

AHA Team Training, via funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Project Firstline, created the TeamSTEPPS Video Toolkit, with on-demand videos housed in an interactive online system.

Project Firstline, CDC’s national training collaborative for infection prevention and control, is committed to preparing front-line health care workers to protect themselves and their patients by stopping the spread of infectious diseases. Project Firstline provides infection control training to this workforce across all roles and settings. TeamSTEPPS is a vital tool in helping achieve these goals.

TeamSTEPPS is malleable and can be used in any care setting, by any type of professional and in any environment. It even works well as a patient and family member communication aid. That’s how the TeamSTEPPS Video Toolkit works. There are videos that cover infection prevention, surgery, medical office interactions and more. We aimed to show the depth and breadth of the usefulness of these tools to help professionals now and in the future.

Resources for Culture Change During a Pandemic

Collaborative technologies — videoconferencing, screen-sharing, digital shared file storage, digital whiteboards, smartphone chat groups — have had a tremendous effect on how health care providers connect with each other and their patients during the pandemic. Yet these modern-day communications channels still require proper communication skills that should be continuously updated. TeamSTEPPS has the ability to enhance the way health care teams, from the front lines up to executive leaders, communicate through a variety of new and different channels.

Each TeamSTEPPS tool — such as SBAR, huddle, debrief or CUS — has three short (about two minutes) videos: one video to explain the teamwork and communication tool, one to illustrate its correct use and one showing opportunities for improvement. These videos will be a great resource to start thinking about how TeamSTEPPS can help make improvements in your health care environment or to reinforce a current program. If you want to dive deeper, AHA Team Training offers a variety of courses and workshops as well as free resources and monthly webinars. Customized advisory services and coaching also are available.

Now more than ever, team training can improve the lives of our patients and families as well as our co-workers. It is vital to begin these conversations in your hospital or health system or revitalize them if they have gone stale. The TeamSTEPPS Video Toolkit can be the first step on the journey to changing the culture for all members of your team.

The new TeamSTEPPS Video Toolkit can be accessed at teamstepps-video-toolkit.aha.org. Learn more about the AHA Team Training program and its other educational offerings at aha.org/center/team-training and more about Project Firstline at aha.org/center/project-firstline.

Project Firstline is a national collaborative led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide infection control training and education to frontline health care workers and public health personnel. AHA is proud to partner with Project Firstline, as supported through Cooperative Agreement CDC-RFA-OT18-1802. CDC is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this webpage do not necessarily represent the policies of CDC or HHS, and should not be considered an endorsement by the Federal Government.

Christopher Hund is senior director, programming and implementation, at the AHA Center for Health Innovation, and leads AHA Team Training efforts.

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