Original Research

Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 632-639

Teamwork and Delegation in Medical Homes: Primary Care Staff Perspectives in the Veterans Health Administration

  • Gala TrueAffiliated withVISN 4 Center for Evaluation of Patient Aligned Care Teams (CEPACT), Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical CenterUniversity of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine Email author 
  • , Greg L. StewartAffiliated withDepartment of Veterans Affairs, VISN23 Patient Aligned Care Team Demonstration Lab, Iowa City VA Health Care SystemTippie College of Business, University of Iowa
  • , Michelle LampmanAffiliated withDepartment of Veterans Affairs, VISN23 Patient Aligned Care Team Demonstration Lab, Iowa City VA Health Care SystemDepartment of Veterans Affairs, Center for Comprehensive Access & Delivery Research and Evaluation (CADRE), Iowa City VA Health Care System
  • , Mary PelakAffiliated withVISN 4 Center for Evaluation of Patient Aligned Care Teams (CEPACT), Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center
  • , Samantha L. SolimeoAffiliated withDepartment of Veterans Affairs, VISN23 Patient Aligned Care Team Demonstration Lab, Iowa City VA Health Care SystemDepartment of Veterans Affairs, Center for Comprehensive Access & Delivery Research and Evaluation (CADRE), Iowa City VA Health Care System

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND

The patient-centered medical home (PCMH) relies on a team approach to patient care. For organizations engaged in transitioning to a PCMH model, identifying and providing the resources needed to promote team functioning is essential.

OBJECTIVE

To describe team-level resources required to support PCMH team functioning within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and provide insight into how the presence or absence of these resources facilitates or impedes within-team delegation.

DESIGN

Semi-structured interviews with members of pilot teams engaged in PCMH implementation in 77 primary care clinics serving over 300,000 patients across two VHA regions covering the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest United States.

PARTICIPANTS

A purposive sample of 101 core members of pilot teams, including 32 primary care providers, 42 registered nurse care managers, 15 clinical associates, and 12 clerical associates.

APPROACH

Investigators from two evaluation sites interviewed frontline primary care staff separately, and then collaborated on joint analysis of parallel data to develop a broad, comprehensive understanding of global themes impacting team functioning and within-team delegation.

KEY RESULTS

We describe four themes key to understanding how resources at the team level supported ability of primary care staff to work as effective, engaged teams. Team-based task delegation was facilitated by demarcated boundaries and collective identity; shared goals and sense of purpose; mature and open communication characterized by psychological safety; and ongoing, intentional role negotiation.

CONCLUSIONS

Our findings provide a framework for organizations to identify assets already in place to support team functioning, as well as areas in need of improvement. For teams struggling to make practice changes, our results indicate key areas where they may benefit from future support. In addition, this research sheds light on how variation in medical home implementation and outcomes may be associated with variation in team-based task delegation.

KEY WORDS

patient-centered medical home teams implementation Veteran’s health qualitative evaluation primary care Department of Veterans Affairs