Implement a Team Approach to Patient Care
Teamwork is a fundamental pillar for success in many professions, but it tends to take a back seat in physical therapy. However, practice owners who implement a team approach to patient care often reduce their PT’s workloads, increase practice productivity, and generate better patient outcomes.
So how can you put these systems in place, and what pitfalls should you avoid?
This article will cover 6 impactful tips on implementing a team approach to improve patient care at your PT practice.
1. Define a Clear, Common Goal
Implementing a solid team approach to physical therapy starts with transparent leadership. Setting clear goals will unify your team and enable them to treat patients more efficiently. Consider forward-thinking, macro goals that drive the entire organization. These are usually presented as a mission statement—or the overarching goal of a physical therapy practice. For example, a sports rehabilitation center’s mission statement could read something like:
“Our mission is to be the sports medicine provider of choice in the local market and a nationally recognized leader in sports health and safety.”
Every PT practicing at this sports rehabilitation center can rally around this cause, even if it’s a general statement.
The next step is to get granular by creating goals around patient outcomes, continuing education, or other clinic-facing topics that set targets for teams. These targets are important for PTs working in a group setting because everyone will have goals to reach for and measure.
2. Promote a Culture That Facilitates Teamwork
Many PT practices focus on individual performance and forget about managing entire teams. Something peculiar happens when practice owners rely on a collective of PTs instead of just one—they start to identify strengths and weaknesses, organize to optimize performance, and usually achieve better patient outcomes.
Clinic culture with strong language geared towards teamwork sets precedence for all current and incoming employees. These values should be at the forefront of the screening and interview process. Also, practice owners should ensure all other cultural conditions are met during the hiring phase. Building a team aligned around the same values is likely the most important part of coordinating an effective team approach.
3. Pool Expertise and Identify Strengths
Every PT has their strengths and weaknesses, making the team-based approach to patient care an excellent way to improve patient outcomes. Practice owners can bring their employees together and ask questions to uncover prior experience. These team-building get-togethers can help—at the very least—determine a starting point. They can also be used to discover areas of opportunity.
Once understood, practice owners can improve individual performance by integrating PT shadowing, on-the-spot coaching, and quarterly performance reviews. Building up each employee will make for a more well-rounded practice that can thrive under a heavy workload.
4. Avoid Micromanagement
A mistake many leaders make is being too involved in daily operations. Practice owners must manage every aspect of the practice and often don’t have time to focus on granular day-to-day operations. The team-based approach is a support net for busy practice owners because the collective wealth of knowledge, checks, and balances between team members strengthens patient care.
Career-driven individuals crave more responsibility and usually produce better results with some space. When practice owners take a step back from the operation, it’s a sign of trust and respect—one that teams surely appreciate.
5. Give Effective Team Coaching & Feedback
Creating an environment that involves consistent coaching and feedback is proven to encourage minor adjustments and produce better results. Here are a few ways to make your coaching sessions more impactful:
Coach in private, praise in public
We’ve all heard this age-old saying, but why does it exist? When an employee is being reprimanded in front of their peers—doesn’t that correct bad behavior?
To be fair, it depends on the employee.
Everyone has a preference on how they’d like to be managed, but the majority of professionals simply don’t want to feel embarrassed. Unless it can’t wait, save the coaching for after, in a more intimate one-on-one session. On the other hand, public praise can reinforce good habits while simultaneously showing other PTs what constitutes good work.
Use hands-on coaching
When introducing new therapy types or hiring less-experienced PTs, shadowing someone proficient can be an excellent way to improve their technique.
Conduct frequent performance reviews
Many practices will hold performance reviews annually—which is probably too far apart. More frequent performance reviews, like quarterly sessions, make tracking goals easier and show PTs that leadership is invested in their improvement.
Set individual and full-team coaching sessions for best results.
6. Put the Patient First
Creating a team-based approach to physical therapy is often beneficial, but making it flow can be difficult. Practice owners need to be wary at first to ensure patients are still receiving the best care possible. It’s important to note, team-based care isn’t for every practice—but keep an open mind. They say a rising tide lifts all boats, which can happen when PTs work together towards a common goal.
For most practices, team care will result in a more complete patient care experience.
The Bottom Line
Implementing a team-based approach can help your practice operate at a high level by pooling PT experience and ensuring everyone can do everyone else’s job. The result is more efficient patient care and enhanced productivity. However, practice owners must define clear goals, establish a culture of team-based physical therapy, and ensure the patient’s needs come first—especially when first switching to team-based care.
If you want to focus on big picture moves but are finding it difficult to make changes—consider implementing an all-in-one solution. Our simple-to-use physical therapy software removes the guesswork by augmenting billing, EMR, telehealth, and many other essential functions busy practice owners need to succeed. Try a free demo today and put practice management on autopilot.