Problem: Teaching hospital multidisciplinary work rounds are often inefficient, delaying the completion of patient care tasks and detracting from teaching. Participants often act as working groups rather than interdependent teams. Athletic principles were used to train multidisciplinary rounding teams to adopt the systems used by manufacturing to improve the efficiency and quality of patient care, as well as teamwork and didactic teaching.
Approach: Experimental groups of general medical rounding teams—faculty member, house staff, medical students, bedside nurses, pharmacists, and a case manager—were introduced to individual job descriptions (playbooks), key customer–supplier relation ships, and efficient communication protocols, accompanied by weekly feed back (game films). A two-phase pilot 11-month prospective trial (February to July 2009 and September 2011 to January 2012) compared the experimental and control rounding teams on the basis of length of stay, 30-day readmission rates, and physician, student, and patient satisfaction.
Outcomes: These interventions resulted in a 30% reduction in 30-day readmissions and, in the 2011–2012 phase, an 18% shorter length of stay. Anonymous surveys documented greater satisfaction of faculty, residents, and medical students, and student ratings of teaching were markedly improved. Patient satisfaction did not change.
Next Steps: The new rounding system has the potential to reduce waste and improve the quality of patient care while improving caregiver satisfaction and medical student teaching. Adaptive leadership skills will be required to overcome resistance to change. The use of athletic analogies can improve teamwork and facilitate the adoption of a systems approach to the delivery of patient care.