Connected Data

I have been visiting different sites and having staff meetings with different groups of clinicians since I came back to my psychiatric services chief job two weeks ago today. I have noticed something that is very important to the smooth operation of a mental health center, and most likely any health care facility you might look at. 

In order to do the best job possible and help the most people who need us, we must work as a team.

Now, when I trained back in the mid-1980s, the physician was still the head of most teams. He (or she) sat at the head of the table, set the agenda, and ran the meeting. The physician set the tone for what was important, what cases would be presented and what topics of discussion would receive the most time and attention. He would dictate to the social workers and nurses and therapeutic assistants what was important to get done that day, what jobs were assigned to whom, and other details of how the day would go for everybody. The whole process was physician driven. 

Not so today. Yes, I still sat at the head of the table at one of our clinical staffings today, but I did not run the meeting. I asked questions, listened to cases being presented, offered guidance where I thought it was needed or appropriate, and used anecdotes or examples to try to get my point across when I thought a certain point needed to be made. The thing that really hit home for me today was that I was truly an “old dog” in a room full of young, energetic, talented, well-trained clinicians who were in various stages of orientation, training and clinical work in that unit. It was energizing to both try to teach them some things that I have learned over the last three decades, but also to listen to them and their fresh perspectives on current mental health problems, presentations and needs. 

I am learning all over again that we all have areas of expertise, things that we like and don’t like to deal with, work flows that we have worked out for ourselves and that flow smoothly for us, and tips and tricks to share with others. We have knowledge that can be pooled with the knowledge of others, making the one cohesive unit much stronger and helpful than just a loose confederation of people who are trying to get things done on their own.

In other words, we need to make sure our data is accessible to others and is usable. We need to connect. We are much more effective as a team than we are as lone wolves. 

5 thoughts on “Connected Data

  1. So true, @gredsmithmd. There is much to be gained from collective intelligence. That’s one of the advantages social media offers healthcare professionals (it isn’t always about promoting a practice). I run a Google+ community of healthcare professionals (Healthcare Talk), and we use virtual discussions to share ideas and solve problems. In one of our discussions, we brought in NODES technology to investigate possible medical applications. By the end of the live discussion, falls prevention was a real possibility. It was amazing and only possible because people came together to listen to each other.


  2. In firefighting, it was called “freelancing” and that is pretty much what it was–small groups organized for specific purposes but often working against each other unwittingly– until the Incident Command System was developed by Chief Alan Brunacini (ret) of the Phoenix., Arizona Fire Department in the 1980s.. This approach was so successful that it was adopted nationwide and then worldwide, and eventually adapted for use beyond the fire service. More than a flow chart or “Christmas Tree” hierarchy, It worked so well because it delineates and co-relates specific responsibilities that can be easily adapted to any emergency situation, and ties everything together in a neat package. It’s the ultimate teamwork formula, and frequently prevented us from “getting in our own way.”


  3. I just started working as an RN with an ACT Team (Assertive Community Treatment) and it is truly a team. Our psychiatrist actively participates and will certainly make the final decision on critical issues, but everyone shares their perspective. This model allows the team to make the best informed decisions for our consumers. So glad you are on board your team.


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