Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Team Huddles Make for a Satisfying Day!

Five minutes before my day begins I discover two patients scheduled for ER followups don't have the hospital records yet in the chart. Can we get those, please? My nurse points out that Mrs. Jones, who just lost her husband, is coming in today. Good to know. My office manager asks if we can work in a late caller from the day before with a rash. Yes, let's do that at, umm, 2 pm. The scheduler says "Mr. Robert's wants to know if he can have his testosterone checked with his regular blood work?" Yes. Anyone else? OK, let's do this!

Sometime in 2012 I heard about using the Huddle Technique in medicine. When The Happy MD's blog post on the Team Huddle hit my mailbox last year I considered trying it but, not having my own medical assistant at the time, I delayed. Several months later at the ACE conference in Chicago, Marijka A. Grey presented on Care Teams using the Huddle and standing orders. I decided to implement them both in my office early September. I've been blown away by how it improves my ability to efficiently provide care. And my staff loves it.

Every morning, I go up front where my office staff is gathered. For about five minutes we inspect the day's schedule, check for issues, make sure we have the necessary referral information, look to see if an appointment's purpose is unclear and generally try to make the day smoother. For the first month, we only huddled in the am. Now my nurse and I meet in the afternoon to review the day and see where we need to follow up with a call to see how the patient is doing in the next day or so.

In regard to standing orders, we have begun slowly. My nurse determines that all patients are up-to-date on their immunizations and if not, offers to provide them with the appropriate vaccine that day. Our Zostavax (shingles shot) rate is up at least 50%. Having her review this information is much more efficient than me trying to remember it along with all the other distractions in the "fifteen minute" visit. Since our EHR is still not capable of "pop ups" that remind us when a patient needs an immunization this is working well. 

As I stated on Twitter--why didn't I think of this 25 years ago?


  1. That sense of community inspires a lot of confidence in your practice. That's what we like about our family medicine in Pueblo CO, they always seem so unified.

  2. I remember when i went to a family practice in Jacksonville, NC for the first time. I loved it, i will take a family practice over anything.