DENVER — With health care payments becoming increasingly tied to quality outcomes, hospital and health system leaders are more focused than ever on putting a premium on high-value patient care. TeamSTEPPS, a teamwork-focused quality curriculum that focuses on patient safety, is thus an in-demand tool, with Day 1 of the TeamSTEPPS National Conference bringing out more than 800 attendees to explore the methodology.

Sessions ranged from getting C-suite leaders to see the value in TeamSTEPPS to tailoring it to the ambulatory setting; as well as to workshops that exemplified how to integrate specific quality improvement methods within teams.

During the latter, a room packed with nurses, physicians and those with “quality” in their titles learned how to marry TeamSTEPPS ideas with Lean principles, and discovered through group exercises the value in shared tenets of the two schools of thought. Together, groups devised process maps for hypothetical case studies, learned firsthand the value of the Five S’s — Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize and Sustain (through a humbling exercise of trying to chronologically follow numbers that were displayed in random assortments), and discussed the importance of tailoring other tools to the health care environment, including PDCA (plan-do-check-act), root cause analysis and the Seven Wastes of Lean manufacturing. Robert Martin, an organizational psychologist at UCLA Health, noted that UCLA added an eighth waste: not utilizing talent, which, for example, makes the case for the loss that occurs when a nurse spends more time making charts than at a patient’s bed.

Lori Scanlan-Hanson, a registered nurse and quality specialist at the Mayo Clinic, was excited to see quality methodologies being taught at a STEPPS conference.

“The methodology of quality combined with the methodology of TeamSTEPPS is absolutely attainable,” she said. “The two very clearly support each other. I would like to see TeamSTEPPS go further; I’d like to see it implemented across our institution more consistently, and since we have a really robust quality education, I think the way to go is to just integrate the two.”

Scanlon-Hanson said that the value in these philosophies boils down to two elements that are ultimately crucial in getting better outcomes: trust and safety.

“Is there a sense of trust built within the team [that is] doing the work? That all goes back to quality outcomes,” she said. “That culture of safety we know nationally is on everybody’s mind. So, you build a culture of safety through programs like TeamSTEPPS and through quality applications.”