Safety Counts! a newsletter highlighting safety at Hallmark Health System

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Vol 3, No. 6, June 2015

Huddles aid communication, raise and resolve current issues

In football, the huddle is used to communicate up-to-the-second information, to strategize and to motivate team members. In pg 1 top health care, it’s pretty much the same.

As part of its service excellence program, Hallmark Health System is spreading the practice of lean-based daily huddles (a concept aimed at continuous improvement) among small groups of staff who work together. This is an evolution of the existing daily huddles in the organization. Early adopters include the leadership team of William Doherty, MD, executive vice president and chief operating officer; the Medical 4 nursing staff at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital; the laboratory and radiology leadership teams; the quality team; and the pharmacy teams at both Hallmark Health hospitals.

Huddles average 5-15 minutes each day and are limited to discussion of a structured list, tailored to each area, of questions about issues that have arisen in the last 24 hours. Lists include touch points on each of five cornerstones: people, quality, service, finance and growth. “Daily huddles serve several purposes,” said David Marshall, director of performance improvement. “They facilitate team communication, help build strong teams, identify and address issues in a timely manner, and align team activities with department and organizational objectives.”

Huddles also help improve patient safety. “We know that good communication and patient safety go hand in hand,” said Marshall. “Having the daily huddle gives team
members an opportunity to speak up on issues they see every day, things that may seem small or may otherwise go unidentified, but that, when fixed, can improve safety for patients and staff.”

For example, Mike Biskup, director of laboratory services, said: “As part of lab huddles, we discuss any instrument issues. Recently, our main coagulation analyzer malfunctioned. While our technician caught the problem right away, we discussed it later during our huddle, which involves all lab locations. This enabled other lab areas to be on high alert for similar malfunctions, which could have resulted in inaccurate results being sent to clinicians.”

More areas will begin huddling this summer, with continued rollout throughout the system in fiscal year 2016.



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