AHRQ Views: Blog posts from AHRQ leaders
With TeamSTEPPS 3.0, AHRQ Refreshes a Landmark Patient Safety Training Curriculum
It has been 17 years since AHRQ launched TeamSTEPPS, a patient safety training program that supports AHRQ’s mission and its central role in the Nation’s expanding efforts to protect patients from avoidable harms.
Then, as now, hospitals and health systems were under pressure from a variety of forces to improve the safety of patient care. But the availability of up-to-date and evidence-based solutions was often elusive.
In response, TeamSTEPPS, developed in collaboration with the Department of Defense, offered a menu of tools for improving communication and teamwork among clinical teams in hospitals, primary care practices, and other healthcare settings.
In the next eight years, more than 1,500 hospitals across the country implemented TeamSTEPPS training. The free, publicly available resource certified more than 5,000 master trainers who, in turn, trained more than 300,000 healthcare professionals. In 2014, TeamSTEPPS 2.0 was released and included important updates for measuring impact, as well as an online training option.
As noted by our director, Robert Otto Valdez, Ph.D., M.H.S.A., the training program aligns with recent steps taken by Biden-Harris Administration to make patient safety a national priority: “AHRQ stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Administration and the goals outlined in the recent report released by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology with recommendations to advance the Nation’s commitment to safety solutions for patients and the healthcare workforce. Together with Health and Human Services Secretary Becerra, we are committed to reducing avoidable harms to patients and our healthcare workforce.”
TeamSTEPPS’ popularity has had positive impacts on patient care that are incalculable. Success stories have revealed gains such as faster care for stroke patients, more efficient patient transfers from emergency department gurneys to inpatient hospital beds, and fewer surgical complications.
But the challenges faced by healthcare providers every day, from care fragmentation to workforce burnout, mean that proven ways of addressing patient safety remain essential.
Today, AHRQ is pleased to keep the momentum going with another important milestone in its ongoing commitment to moving toward zero patient harm: TeamSTEPPS 3.0. AHRQ’s updated version includes several new features designed to keep pace with the ever-changing dynamics of healthcare delivery:
- Increased Patient Focus: Training updates help increase the involvement of patients and family caregivers in care processes and decision making. New features include examples of patient participation. The curriculum also offers new engagement methods, such as patient videos, simulation training, and a guide for patients and family caregivers.
- Integrated TeamSTEPPS Platform: The new TeamSTEPPS 3.0 curriculum consolidates content from prior versions that were created for separate care settings.
- Modular Course Design: TeamSTEPPS 3.0 can be taught in sessions of varying lengths to accommodate time constraints. For example, a single short training addressing a specific need may work best in some cases. Shorter sessions may also be easier to use in virtual or hybrid trainings.
- Active Learning Strategies: Instead of passive lectures, the curriculum provides various teaching options including discussions, online group exercises, and video-based simulations.
- Addressing Potential Team Challenges and Leveraging New Opportunities: The healthcare workforce is becoming more diverse and multigenerational as the technology to support healthcare delivery, such as instant messaging and telemedicine, is rapidly changing. TeamSTEPPS 3.0 emphasizes ways a more diverse workforce can benefit team functioning and makes connections between effective teamwork and improved provider well-being.
To further enhance training, AHRQ launched a challenge competition last year that encouraged healthcare organizations to compete for prize money to develop updated TeamSTEPPS videos. The competition recently concluded, and TeamSTEPPS 3.0 now includes these six new videos.
In 2023, AHRQ’s efforts to advance patient safety remain robust and wide-ranging, including recent research investments and practice improvement tools aimed at preventing diagnostic errors, healthcare associated infections, and surgical complications. Central to the success of all these initiatives are the clinical teams on the front lines. We are excited to provide the new TeamSTEPPS 3.0 as an important resource that can help support our colleagues in their critical efforts to keep patients safe.
Craig Umscheid is director and Monika Haugstetter is a health scientist administrator in AHRQ’s Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety.