The BID Team Huddle

Written by on December 31, 2014 in Features - No comments

A Key Step to Taking Your Practice Back

HuddleWEBTime after time, physician surveys show we are overwhelmed with the non-clinical tasks of the average practice day. Instead of taking care of patients, we become trapped in the quicksand of EMR, filing papers, patient flow and putting out fires that seem to come out of nowhere. There is a way to minimize all of this and begin taking your practice back — something that only takes five minutes twice a day. In fact, I bet you have even heard of this tool: the team huddle.

A crisp BID team huddle stops fires before they start, gets all team members on the same page and sets you up for success rather than struggle. You will save at least three to five minutes of work time for every minute you devote to the huddle – and it will get home sooner as a result.

As a physician coach working with burned out doctors, I have taught the following huddle system to hundreds of doctors and it is routinely cited as a major piece of their recovery. Let me share with you the basics and then some additional “power tips” to help you take your personal care delivery team to a whole new level of performance.

BID Huddle Basics

A typical doctor’s day is split into halves, with a morning and afternoon clinic. (Note: go ahead and adjust the following structure to suit your needs if your day is scheduled differently.) The huddle is performed BID before each clinic. Here are the steps:

  • Give yourself at least 15 minutes between the start of your huddle and your first scheduled patient. So if your first patient is at 9 a.m., schedule your huddle at 8:45 a.m. If any quick action steps come up in the huddle, you have time to complete them.
  • The huddle consists of everyone on your patient flow team. You, your nurse/MA/roomer, your receptionist and anyone else on the team that comes in contact with the patient during their time in the office or hospital. Have someone bring a copy of the half day’s schedule to a stand up meeting of this team.
  • The huddle is a stand up meeting. Do not make your people come to your office and kowtow to you while you sit behind your desk … please. Start a five minute timer. It usually won’t take that long. Starting the timer keeps everyone on point.
  • Go over the half day schedule as a team. Share information on who needs special accommodations. There is always someone scheduled to go in the wrong room or missing a piece of equipment. If you do procedures, are they set up correctly? Are all the office systems and supplies functioning normally? If the hot water is out or computers are down, now is when the whole team needs to know!
  • Share information on who is upset in the waiting room and why. Decide how you want your open appointments booked. Ask if there is anything else the team needs to know before you kick into the day.

That is your basic BID huddle structure. You are pre-planning as a team, to ensure a smooth, efficient practice day. Don’t stop there. The huddle is the ideal forum for much higher level team building.

Huddle Power Tips

The huddle is a perfect place to build your team’s morale and effectiveness. It only takes a few minutes to execute on these team building tools:

  • Ask everyone how they are doing today. If a team member has a sick child and might have to leave early, the sooner you are aware the better. Show interest. Get to know each other as people. You care about your team members. All it takes is a word or two here to show it.
  • Take time to celebrate. “Who has something they want to celebrate or acknowledge themselves for … and it doesn’t have to be about work?” Give them an opportunity for a pat on the back. If someone’s son just became a state soccer champ or daughter just won a spelling bee, it feels really good to share it with your co-workers and see the smiles of congratulation all around. And it takes all of 15 seconds.
  • Acknowledge all effort. Take a moment to publically thank one or more team members for their hard work in the previous days. Unless you plan to do this on purpose, sincere thanks from the leader is very rare on a medical team.
  • Problem solve. Ask if there are any issues that need to be addressed. You can delegate action steps and report back on results at the next huddle. Example: “The new flu vaccine is in. Sarah, please check on the proper dose and report back to us in the next huddle.”
  • Leverage the team. Ask if anyone has noticed a patient care activity that could be done more effectively by a different member of the team. Let them know you are open to new ideas and ways of dealing with the team’s tasks.
  • Clear and center. End with a big breath to center everyone at the start of the day. You may even want to put your hands in the center and end with a cheer.

Your team will love it when the BID Huddle becomes a habit in your practice. If you miss a day, they will remind you and insist you huddle up. You will have less kerfuffles in the flow of your patients, fewer surprises, better team coordination, more engaged and happier staff and you will feel things just got noticeably smoother and easier.

Here is the big danger and one final Power Tip:  The biggest obstacle to an effective BID Huddle is the physician. Doctors often think they are too busy to huddle. These are usually the physicians who fly in at 9:05 a.m. for that 9 a.m. patient and are behind all day. Even more commonly, the doctor stops calling the huddle after the first week and it dies a slow and silent death. Don’t let this happen to you.

I also strongly advise you to take yourself out of the picture and delegate the calling of the huddle to one of your staff members. Tell them they are to call the huddle at 8:45 a.m. Let them know now there will be days when you, the doctor, will resist and they have your permission now to call you on it. Set yourself a penalty now if you fail to show for a team huddle, such as a $5 gift card for each team member. Hold yourself to these agreements.

There you have it. A well-performed BID huddle will save you three to five times the amount of time spent in the huddle and get everyone home earlier. Don’t start a half day in the clinic or hospital without it.

Dike Drummond MD is a family practice doctor, executive coach and author of “Stop Physician Burnout – what to do when working harder isn’t working.” His field-tested physician burnout prevention tools can be found on his website, www.TheHappyMD.com.  He is an advisory team member for VITAL Worklife, the only company providing healthcare organizations with comprehensive pathways to promote a healthy workplace experience. For more information, visit VITALWorkLife.com.

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