Huddles are short, daily meetings in which a teamlet (a Primary Care Provider and a Medical Assistant or other support staff) reviews their patient list for the day. They usually last no more than 10 minutes. Huddles enable a team to anticipate care needs and special situations, so that members of the care team can support each other through the day.
In addition to care team huddles, all-staff huddles are used at some clinics to alert everyone to staffing issues, upcoming events, or important policy updates. They are usually no more than 5 minutes/day. Sometimes, all staff huddles are followed by care team huddles.
There is not one right way to conduct a healthy huddle. Huddles can range from a few minutes to twenty minutes. They may be held daily or at the beginning of a clinic session, and the agenda varies depending on the team needs. The goal is for a huddle to be an effective and efficient tool for communicating about patients and the flow of the clinic session.
The most effective huddles involve some preparation in advance. For example, in some clinics a medical assistant “scrubs the charts” or does pre-visit prep work in advance, identifying preventative care gaps, chronic disease management needs, screening alerts, or patients with recent hospitalizations. The person who does the most visit preparation will often lead the huddle as they know what is ahead of the teamlet for the clinic session or day.
Huddles often result in great improvements for relatively small time investment. Clinics often report that staff are more likely to show up on time and communication is quickly improved.
Tools to implement healthy huddles in your practice
- Help your team identify the goals of a huddle using “Healthy Huddles Happen!”
- Help your medical assistants prepare for huddles using the “Healthy Huddle Warm up”
- Follow up on issues emerging during huddles using our “Healthy Huddle Wrap-Up” tool
- Read about the experiences of other sites in the CEPC Primary Care Spotlight: Spotlight on Huddles
- Check out this training video on Huddles from the Safety Net Institute’s Active Care Teams (ACT): Embracing Daily Team Huddles Video
- Watch how the Everett Clinic uses huddles: Watch Now
- Read about huddles and team communication at Institute for Healthcare Improvement: Use Regular Huddles and Staff Meetings to Plan Production and to Optimize Team Communication
- Read more about how to run a huddle at HealthTeamWorks: Huddle Up!
- Read about how huddles improve office efficiency in this Family Practice Management article - Huddles: Improve Office Efficiency in Mere Minutes