Teamwork in the Exam Room

Going Solo Doesn’t Work in the Operating Room

It Doesn’t Work in the Exam Room Either

This surgeon walks into an operating room and nobody is there except the patient. If that sounds like the beginning of a joke consider that the patient waiting for the procedure wouldn’t find it very funny.

A successful surgery requires the close cooperation of a number of operating room personnel. It relies on their familiarity with their specific roles, their preparedness and their ability to execute their responsibilities quickly and confidently. On the most basic level, they’re working together as a well-trained and experienced team.  As it turns out, the primary care exam room responds well to that same scenario.

What’s been taking place in what I have referred to as the “primary care operating theater of performance” is all too often a solo act with the physician spending much of his or her time collecting and verifying relevant medical data, completing documentation, implementing the treatment plan, carrying out any needed patient education and closing the visit.

By re-assigning these important but essentially routine tasks that don’t require direct physician involvement to appropriately trained members of  a coordinated care team, doctors can focus on direct interaction with patients – instead of keyboarding EMR data – while using their specific expertise and training for vital medical issues. The results are physicians who experience more challenge and greater satisfaction as well as more satisfied patients and staff.

The team care approach also provides the foundation for increases in the number of patients seen in a day with subsequent increases in revenues. The other important benefits reported by practices using a team care model are reduced stress levels among physicians, a restored or new sense of joy with practicing medicine and the always appreciated increase in personal time.

There are a number of activities that lend themselves well to the lone wolf approach. Things like reading, painting, writing, cooking, certain types of exercise or reflecting on the greater meaning of life come to mind. But when it comes to exam rooms, it’s becoming increasingly evident that the team care model is the way to go.


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