Behaviors of successful interdisciplinary hospital quality improvement teams§


  • Funding: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (R01HL072575), the Commonwealth Fund, the Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program.

  • Disclosure: Nothing to report.

  • §

    Ethical approval was granted by the Institutional Review Board at the Yale University School of Medicine.



Although interdisciplinary hospital quality improvement (QI) teams are both prevalent and associated with success of (QI) efforts, little is known about the behaviors of successful interdisciplinary QI teams.


We examined the specific behaviors of interdisciplinary QI teams in hospitals that successfully redesigned care for patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) and reduced door-to-balloon times.


Qualitative study.


Researchers interviewed 122 administrators, providers, and staff in 11 hospitals with substantial improvements in door-to-balloon times.


Using data from the in-depth qualitative interviews, the authors identified themes that described the behaviors of interdisciplinary QI teams in successful hospitals.


Teams focused on 5 behaviors: (1) motivating involved hospital staff toward a shared goal, (2) creating opportunities for learning and problem-solving, (3) addressing the impact of changes to care processes on staff, (4) protecting the integrity of the new care processes, and (5) representing each involved clinical discipline effectively.


The behaviors observed may enhance a QI team's ability to motivate the various disciplines involved, understand the care process they must change, be responsive to front-line concerns while maintaining control over the improvement process, and share information across all levels of the hospital hierarchy. Teams in successful hospitals did not avoid interdisciplinary conflict, but rather allowed each discipline to contribute to the team from its own perspective. Successful QI teams addressed the concerns of each involved discipline, modified protocols guided by clinical outcomes, and became conduits of information on changes to care processes to both executive managers and front-line staff. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2011;. © 2011 Society of Hospital Medicine