DaVita® Medical Insights

5 Characteristics of a Successful Dialysis Care Team

In outpatient dialysis clinics, medical directors are increasingly expanding their roles from traditional medical director responsibilities. They now oversee the evolution of team performance as it relates to clinical care and patient outcomes. Ideally, quality outcomes and enhanced patient experience are achieved by coordinated, high-performing dialysis care teammates who find fulfillment in their work and continuously improve themselves and team collaboration. However, the care team must also navigate continuous priority changes, acute complications and patients who may move across multiple care domains. Medical directors have an opportunity to lead in multiple ways through all of these activities, by supporting consistent communication between the dialysis team (nephrologist, nurse, patient care technician, dietitian and social worker), and external teams (primary care physician, specialists, pharmacist and others) and guiding the team toward excellent patient outcomes.

Medical directors can explore ways to improve team performance by considering the following efforts consistently made by a high-performing team.

  1. Continuously improving communication. Improved team communication may enhance performance. Medical directors have the responsibility of making sure that there is open communication to teammates, from teammates, between teammates and between the dialysis team and peripheral teams.
  2. Setting clear goals. Medical directors can lead the team in creating clear goals and work with the team to prioritize goals each day. To improve team success, medical directors can help teammates:
    • Acknowledge what is working
    • Understand how their capabilities contribute to team goals
    • Navigate urgent and emergent situations
    • Reframe challenges and define successes each day
    • Cultivate emotional intelligence and alleviate stress
  3. Sharing leadership. The sum of all knowledge of individuals is greater than that of one individual. All teammates should feel comfortable with asking for advice and sharing leadership opportunities in their areas of expertise.
  4. Conducting self-performance reviews. Each teammate should be encouraged to review their own performance to continuously learn and improve.
  5. Frequently evaluating overall team performance. Measuring the success of a team’s performance can involve the following metrics:
    • Healthier and more-satisfied patients
    • Fewer hospitalizations
    • Improved communication among the core and peripheral care teams
    • Higher teammate job satisfaction

The complexity and pace of change in health care have spurred different approaches to engaging teams and providing the best-possible care for patients. As medical directors focus their attention on the skills and talents of dialysis teammates and make an effort to build and lead a high-performing care team, patients may be offered the opportunity to experience improved outcomes and a better quality of life.

Bryan Becker, MD, MMM, FACP, CPE

Bryan Becker, MD, MMM, FACP, CPE

Bryan N. Becker, MD, is chief medical officer of DaVita Integrated Care and has nearly 20 years of physician executive experience. He received his AB in English at Dartmouth College and MD from the University of Kansas, and, after training at Duke and Vanderbilt, he led the nephrology group at the University of Wisconsin and developed a new kidney care venture called Wisconsin Dialysis, Inc. He also served as CEO at the University of Illinois Hospital and Clinics and president of the National Kidney Foundation. Before joining DaVita Kidney Care, Dr. Becker served as President of the University of Chicago Medicine (UCM) Care Network, a more than 1,000 physician clinical integration organization, and Vice President, Clinical Integration and Associate Dean, Clinical Affairs at UCM. Twitter: @bnbeckermd