Your patients depend on you. With the right team, you can deliver the care that they need. Follow these tips when planning your mobile healthcare program to find the best team!
If a well-designed mobile health program is the skeleton, your healthcare team is the heart and soul.
On the surface, your team is a group of people bound together by a common mission and goals.
The overarching mission that unites us all in healthcare is delivering care to patients. The “how’s” and the “why’s” are determined by your individual program.
When you’re in the nitty gritty of designing your mobile medical program, don’t lose sight of the fact that you need a special kind of team to take it from paper to real life. At baseline, your medical team needs to be comprised of qualified individuals who work together, but it’s not enough to just work together.
In this guide, we’ll talk about tips for building the right team for your mobile health program so that your vision goes from an aspirational dream to a true life-changing success.
The Unique Needs of Mobile Health
Healthcare occupations in general require a unique kind of professional. In addition to meeting basic qualifications, they need to embody traits that you can’t necessarily learn, such as care, empathy, ethics. And while these are integral qualities of good healthcare providers, they really just scratch the surface of what makes someone successful in mobile health.
Mobile healthcare that targets underserved communities experiences added challenges compared to healthcare delivered from traditional brick and mortar facilities. Added stress related to tightly regulated supplies and resources, time, and space itself means that your team needs to truly function as a unit. Not to mention, this is all being done to bring meaningful change to people’s lives who need it. This is no small feat!
Your mission will test you. When it does, you’ll want a team that can survive. How do you take a group of individuals from professionals who work together, to a real team?
The Recipe for a Successful Team
The right combination of independent qualities and teamwork will bring your vision to life. Let’s talk about points that you should reflect on when forming your mobile healthcare team.
1. Commit to Values
Not every healthcare professional is built for mobile healthcare.
Mobile healthcare is very much focused on the picture of public health as a whole. Although mobile healthcare is naturally patient-focused, it’s not just about the patient in your chair. You’re looking at patient health from a birds-eye view, concerned with addressing public health deficits related to barriers to care.
The individuals that contribute to your program’s success will be passionate about healthcare equity, to the point of being willing to make sacrifices to be on the front line and stay there. Working in mobile medical units will ask you to sacrifice things like the comfort of space and the luxuries of extra supplies on deck. Mobile healthcare will ask you to do a lot with just a little, and to do it well.
In interviews, if someone wavers on any aspect of the job, chances are they could be a weak fit. Look for unwavering passion and eagerness to work towards the big picture. The person who succeeds will be the person who loves what they do.
Once you have your team assembled and your program is in motion, reinforce your mission at every opportunity. When each member of your team truly believes in and is passionate about your cause, you will prioritize finding ways to navigate challenges and barriers to this cause. When inevitable stresses arise, reminding yourself and your team of your mission can help you get your mind back on track.
You are all working on something bigger than yourselves and impacting real people’s lives. Show your team the real-world effects of both their collaborative and individual work. People who feel a true sense of purpose and real-world accomplishment are even more motivated to work towards the common goals established by your program.
2. Commit to Teamwork
At the end of the day, you’re only as strong as your ability to work together. It’s a proven fact that successful collaboration improves patient outcomes and minimizes errors, contributing to the success of your program.
When it comes to mobile healthcare, errors are less forgiving. You’re working with limited funds, supplies, manpower, and time. Not to mention, your patients are less capable of managing the error on their end. Don’t forget that they already have barriers to traditional care. When mistakes happen, they don’t always have the means to follow up with you to correct the error, manage symptoms, or are limited in health literacy and don’t have the tools to understand what they need to do.
It takes more than just bringing a group of people together who say they are “committed to teamwork” to be a good team. The real work comes after you already have your team - how do you create an environment where people can confidently rely on and depend on one another? This takes time to develop, no matter how elite your new team members are.
Effective teamwork relies on effective, trustworthy communication. If communications are unreliable, the seeds of doubt that are planted can be destructive in and of themselves.
All members of the team should be involved in important decision processes so that efforts and understanding are cohesive. These team members will all feel increased stakes and responsibility in operations, and the addition of other perspectives can prove invaluable. Not to mention, each decision that you involve your team in is a learning opportunity to exercise collaboration and critical thinking.
Resist the urge to just “get things done” on your own. Involve others, teach, and share in the wealth of knowledge.
3. Communicate Clearly
Your mobile healthcare team needs to be tight, and for this to happen everyone needs to be on the same page at all times.
Transparent top-down communication will help encourage transparency on all levels. Miscommunication can have a snowball effect that takes resources away from the tasks at hand, which is costly for everyone including patients. In fact, almost all medical errors are a result of (preventable) miscommunication.
Sometimes, this miscommunication results in just a mild inconvenience. Other times, it results in patient death.
As you can see, individual patient and public health outcomes depend on your reliable communications. Have crystal clear protocol in place, establish measurable objectives, and have explicit expectations for everyone on your team. Accountability is essential. Track progress to your goals, and communicate this progress.
Don’t assume that people know what they’re supposed to do. When in doubt, over-communicate, and clearly communicate each person’s role so that there is no misunderstanding. When you have people coming together from different backgrounds, they’re used to different routines and protocols. Make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Measurable objectives help your team focus. Guesswork is a waste of brainpower and resources. You need hard, evidence-based approaches to your work so that you can quantify your strengths and weaknesses and modify your strategy accordingly, with real data to back up your decisions.
When your team succeeds, have an open discussion that celebrates this achievement and talk about what contributed to this success and carry over these practices. Conversely, when you fail, have a safe and transparent discussion about what can be done in the future and how you will follow through with these modifications.
4. Lead by Example
If you are at the helm of your mobile healthcare program, understand that your example sets the tone.
The level of respect, commitment to transparent communication, and dedication to protocol reflects your expectations for your team. Your actions should demonstrate the importance of quality and diligent attention to detail. Be sincere in everything you do and reflect the qualities that you value in your team.
When you model genuine, transparent two-way communication, you help build rapport and trust among your team, which are invaluable in patient care. When most people think of two-way communication, they usually think of the transmitter of information and not the receiver. Practice modeling empathetic listening to your teammates so that they feel listened to and follow your lead.
Make sure that your actions reflect your words. This is the best way to gain the trust of your team, and the most surefire way to breed cynicism and doubt and create cracks. This cynicism and doubt will be contagious and will work directly against your team’s best interests.
Openly acknowledge your shortcomings to stimulate problem solving collaborative discussion and model accountability. Creating a safe space for this discussion also encourages your team to do the same and shows that mistakes are meant to be learned from, and not feared.
5. Encourage Advancement
When you encourage personal advancement, you are encouraging continuous improvement on an individual level that ultimately benefits the whole team and the patients you are trying to reach. An individual’s overall wellbeing is critical to their work performance and team involvement, and one aspect of this is internal motivation for advancement.
Individual advancement leads to increased talent, reduced supervision needs, and innovation. Advancement serves as a motivator for work output and quality improvement. The team environment you foster should encourage constant skill refinement and learning. Get your team excited about all there is to gain as an individual in the profession they love!
Your patients are relying on you for quality healthcare, and you are relying on a solid team. When you bring together talented, qualified, passionate healthcare professionals into an environment that promotes cohesive problem solving, miracles happen. Make the most of your team members’ individual potentials by using these tips to build a powerful team!