An effective team meeting is essential to ensure important decisions are made in a well-informed and objective manner. For a medical team, this is even more important as decisions are often very critical, especially in risky situations that may affect patients’ lives.

The following are a few essential tips for a medical team to conduct a successful, effective meeting.

1. A clear and established agenda

Defining objectives clearly and establishing a firm agenda is important so that discussions do not wander and stray away from the main topics. The agenda should be drafted and circulated prior to the meeting, so that participants have an idea about the list of issues that will be discussed and be prepared in advance to bring information or concerns that they may have regarding those issues.

In this regard, the chairman of the meeting has the responsibility of making sure the meeting progresses in the right direction. Additionally, the reporting parties for each item in the agenda as well as the action plan associated with the item should be identified.

Updates on patient status, for instance, may require valuable input from doctors and nurses, while administrative issues such as patient registration and rooming may need input from the nurse manager or front desk supervisor.

2. Firm time limit

One important key to a successful medical team meeting is proper time management. The Cambridge Health Alliance Practice developed a Model of Team-Based Care Implementation Guide and Toolkit and recommended a 30- to 60-minute team meeting, depending on whether it is held on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

In a healthcare environment, time is of the essence. Setting the time limit and sticking to it can ensure that a meeting does not stray from its intended objectives and does not take more of employees’ time than necessary.

This is critical as it may jeopardise patient care. In addition, according to Harvard Business Review, very few meetings achieve anything of value after two hours.

3. Active team participation

Participation by all team members is one of the ingredients of a good team meeting in a medical setting. Everyone’s viewpoint, opinion and concern should be considered valuable.

The chairman should strive to encourage team members to speak up and give their input. Individuals who are new to the team may feel shy, and therefore it may be helpful to solicit their opinion directly to make them feel more welcomed.

4. Effective leadership

As someone who leads the meeting, the chairman of the meeting plays a major role in managing time efficiently and ensuring that the meeting is progressive and productive. However, in order to achieve the best outcome from the meeting as well as the participants, the chairman will also need to address the various behavioural styles within a meeting.

The medical team often consists of individuals with different character. Some individuals tend to be relaxed, agreeable and cooperative, while others may be more direct, assertive and tend to dominate the discussion, for instance. Despite this, the chairman has to help the group towards achieving the best conclusion, move the discussion forward and bring the meeting to a resolution that is well-received and well-understood by every member.

The immediate and face-to-face communication between the participants is an important feature that defines a meeting as a platform for a goal- or outcome-directed interaction. Hence, paying considerable attention to the timing, planning, and management of different situations as they arise is an important element to make the most out of meeting sessions and to enable the medical team to work towards appropriate outcomes. MIMS

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