Huddles are “structured brief (5-15 minutes) routine face-to-face communication of a team’s full members” (Rodriguez et al. 2014). Content covered during huddles typically includes a) pre-visit planning for scheduled patients, b) strategizing care plans for patients with special or complex needs, c) addressing workflow and communication issues through collective problem solving, and d) insuring awareness of what team members do and what actions are happening on the team and in practice.
Today, there’s a lot of talk about teamwork and interprofessional education and practice. Much of the education and training in these areas occurs outside of clinical settings. This can lead to a gap between education and practice. The huddle is a way to bring learning about teamwork into the actual healthcare workplace. It’s a vehicle to teach, practice, reinforce, and reflect upon teamwork and interprofessional practice.
Article: Shunk, R., Dulay, M., Chou, C.L., Janson, S., & O’Brien, B.C. (2014). Huddle Coaching. Academic Medicine, 89.2 (244-250).
Many outpatient clinics where health professionals train will transition to a team-based medical home model over the next several years. Therefore, training programs need innovative approaches to prepare and incorporate trainees into team-based delivery systems. To address this need, educators at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center included trainees in preclinic team “huddles,” or briefing meetings to facilitate care coordination, and developed an interprofessional huddle-coaching program for nurse practitioner students and internal medicine residents who function as primary providers for patient panels in VA outpatient primary care clinics. The program aimed to support trainees’ partnerships with staff and full participation in the VA’s Patient Aligned Care Teams. The huddle-coaching program focuses on structuring the huddle process via scheduling, checklists, and designated huddle coaches; building relationships among team members through team-building activities; and teaching core skills to support collaborative practice. A multifaceted evaluation of the program showed positive results. Participants rated training sessions and team-building activities favorably. In interviews, trainees valued their team members and identified improvements in efficiency and quality of patient care as a result of the team-based approach. Huddle checklists and scores on the Team Development Measure indicated progress in team processes and relationships as the year progressed. These findings suggest that the huddle-coaching program was a worthwhile investment in trainee development that also supported the clinic’s larger mission to deliver team-based, patient-aligned care. As more training sites shift to team-based care, the huddle-coaching program offers a strategy for successfully incorporating trainees.
Video: How to Huddle will not only inspire you to do all of the above, it will demonstrate how to mobilize the power of huddles to create or enhance patient-centered, team-based care.