Leading Evidence-Based Innovation at Your Facility, Part 3: The Team's the Thing
By Kelly Daley, PT, MBA
In earlier posts, I touched on some ideas around how to achieve leadership buy-in for a systematic, evidence-based change in your facility's practice, and how to prepare for and measure effectiveness. Now comes the third step (and the step many consider the most fun): bringing a core team together.
Why can this be so much fun? Because this is where the magic happens. And it really does take a team. Although you may be at the helm of this new program, you'll want to engage several others who offer needed skills as invested team members. In other words, don't make the mistake of seeing this as all yours just because you are leading it.
If you're finding yourself stretched thin, you may want to identify an operational leader. Get help from someone who sees and understands the big picture, and can assist in overcoming barriers, garnering resources, and creating sustainability.
And if you really want to power up your team, consider adding a statistical star. It's very helpful to engage someone who can add statistical and analytics power to your program. This may seem intimidating if you are not in a facility where this type of support already exists (and believe me it doesn't readily exist for 99% of us), but there are ways you can make it happen.
First, remember: you have critical clinical knowledge of the most appropriate outcome measure and its related levels of MCID (minimal clinically important difference). I talked about that in my last post.
Just because your facility doesn't have an identified staff member focused solely on statistics doesn't mean nobody has those skills, so look around internally first. Alternatively, try your DPT university partners—if you provide student internships, then this type of support may be a reasonable trade off.
And here's another avenue: Think about reaching out to known physical therapy researchers who may be willing to be involved in some way. This isn't as impossible as it might sound. You can contact APTA's Professional Affairs Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org for help on identifying the availability of potential researchers. You never know who may be interested in what you're doing.
It is powerful to connect with someone who buys into your evidence-based initiative and can contribute statistical knowledge for the design and production of analytic reports. These reports will speak to the baseline (pre-pilot), initial evaluation, and post-treatment improvements in value. And a statistical specialist can help you think about how you want to slice your data to best suit your facility. Do you need to see these measures as they relate to clusters of ICD-10s? By stratification of patient demographics? By individual therapists? And so on. Having a statistics-minded team member on hand can help you not only get the data, but also think about which data are the most important, and how they should be teased out and presented.
Regardless of whether you're fortunate enough to include both a statistics person and an operational person on your team, the most important thing is to create a team of some kind, and honor it. A strong, engaged core team means local buy-in. You're no longer trying to get everyone to follow "your" idea, because a team approach invites everyone to take ownership in the idea. And that's a good thing. With coworkers on board, you can concentrate on maintaining appropriate momentum, and ensuring no single team member is unduly burdened.
One final tip: never be afraid to ask for advice. You may be championing a truly wonderful idea that could change the lives of your patients, but that fact alone won't make your vision a reality. You need the support and input of others, from assistants who know the on-the-ground realities, to the administration insider who knows the ins and outs of your facility's leadership dynamics, to fellow therapists who may have attempted to introduce innovation at your facility or elsewhere. Ask for their input—and then listen.
Implementing evidence-based innovation can be complicated, confusing, and frustrating. But you can do it. And the payoff—seeing how the change actually makes your facility a better place for your patients, and watching as patients reach better outcomes—is more than worth the effort.
Go for it.
Kelly Daley is clinical informatics program coordinator for Johns Hopkins Hospital, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Explore other posts from the "Narrow the Gap" series.