AHRQ Views: Blog posts from AHRQ leaders
A New Era for TeamSTEPPS
After 10 years of success, the time has come to modernize our flagship training program, Team Strategies & Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety, known as TeamSTEPPS®.
As many of you know, TeamSTEPPS was developed by AHRQ and the Department of Defense to improve patient safety by guiding health care organizations’ efforts to increase collaboration and communication among health care professionals.
The enthusiasm for TeamSTEPPS has been gratifying, and it has influenced the practice of many clinicians and organizations. Since its launch in 2006, nearly 6,200 master trainers have attended in-person AHRQ training sessions. Approximately 37,000 people, in turn, have been trained by master trainers. Further, the TeamSTEPPS curricula have been translated by our international colleagues into over 20 languages to improve health care and keep patients safe around the globe.
One important contributor to this success has been TeamSTEPPS’ broad applicability. AHRQ-funded trainings have been offered for health care professionals in numerous settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and medical offices.
But, as every organization recognizes, even the most successful projects must continue to adapt. This fall, we’ll move TeamSTEPPS into its next phase by focusing on our online training modules with continuing education credits and a mobile app available at no charge.
Given recent developments, our increased emphasis on online access makes perfect sense. Web metrics show high usage of TeamSTEPPS materials, including more than 200,000 online sessions over the past six months. More than 1,200 people have completed the online certificate course, and dozens have already completed the recently launched online course for health care professionals working in office-based settings.
TeamSTEPPS’ ongoing success is due in part to its alignment with other AHRQ tools, such as the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture, which underscores teamwork as an essential element of patient safety. Facilities that identify low levels of communication and teamwork can clearly benefit from access to TeamSTEPPS curricula. Many examples are highlighted in AHRQ impact case studies.
While we will no longer offer in-person TeamSTEPPS training, AHRQ offers ready-to-use curricula, including the base curriculum as well as specialty modules for office-based care providers, long-term care settings, and rapid response teams.
We’re also very much aware that several private-sector organizations have used—and will continue to use—publicly available TeamSTEPPS resources to develop in-person training they offer to the field. While this interest underscores TeamSTEPPS’ contributions to safe, high-quality care, it also enables AHRQ to shift attention to future research projects intended to broaden the use of teamwork.
Among other emerging topics, AHRQ is interested in learning how better teamwork can improve diagnosis and prevent diagnostic errors. TeamSTEPPS has the potential to serve as a model to support safe, accurate diagnoses by health care teams that work across health care settings.
The new direction for TeamSTEPPS aligns with AHRQ director Gopal Khanna’s vision for AHRQ. As Gopal has emphasized, the concept of a learning health system serves as a unifying theme for much of AHRQ's work. With resources such as TeamSTEPPS, AHRQ helps clinicians and health systems improve teamwork within their organizations.
As the United States shifts toward value-based payment systems, AHRQ will continue to support research that evaluates the importance of teamwork, communication, and coordination in safety and quality, and how to most efficiently support effective health care teams.
And rest assured, we’ll continue to fine-tune our TeamSTEPPS resources so more health care organizations can use them to foster teamwork and protect the safety of their patients, as we continue to develop the next generation of resources to help improve the care patients receive.
Dr. Brady is Director of AHRQ's Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety.