This article will be featured in the Fall edition of the RMS Quality Care Courier.

Building and teaching the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) concept model requires tools and infrastructure. A good place to start is with the team huddle, which is a platform for team building, communication and process improvement.

Team huddles should utilize the expertise and energy of all team members. Each transformation team can help a group establish a style that encourages broad-based participation. One technique is to designate facilitators who will encourage managers, nurses, medical assistants, billers and front desk staff to participate.

The first steps in establishing any transformation is to gather a planning team, establish ground rules for effective meetings and plan a regular schedule of meetings.

Your planning team should choose some broad goals for practice change that can be addressed during the team huddle. Some examples of these practice goals include increased delivery of preventive services, faster office cycle time, improved patient education and other important PCMH changes. Establishing tangible goals will help give your team huddle a purpose as you build this tool into the culture of your practice. These goals will only be a starting point for your group and will naturally evolve over time as goals are reached and new goals are set.

Other elements of developing an effective team huddle are: determining when the huddle should occur so as to not disrupt flow of patient appointments; how much time is needed for an effective huddle; and a location that facilitates group dialogue while also providing access to electronic medical records.

Finally, keep the approach to huddles flexible. Allow your office team to modify as you go along.

The team huddle is an important tool for building a PCMH and primary care practices are encouraged to adopt the technique to achieve a cohesive team among the entire practice’s team. Transforming practices to become a PCMH is a difficult process. The huddle will help you build teamwork, communication and process improvement, foundational elements of the PCMH.

For more information on building a PCMH, contact Susan Maxsween at or by calling 315-635-9802.