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How to find common ground to reach new heights


Use these smart tips to gain alignment across your care team, to set up your patients and organization for sustainable success.

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COPD is a complex, multifactorial disease with various comorbidities, care settings and care team members. As a result, treating COPD demands a truly coordinated effort. But with so many multidisciplinary stakeholders, perspectives and approaches, successful coordination isn’t always possible. Studies show that while collaboration and coordination between team members are essential to delivering quality care, priorities among the team commonly vary.1 This can raise the risk for confusion and conflict, which can impact outcomes for patients and organizations.

The question is—how can care teams find common ground to elevate care delivery?

Look no further, as Jennifer Anderson, MBA, RRT, AE-C, offers proven insights for positive change. Described by her colleagues as “one who has turned finding common ground into an art form,” she has mastered a number of essential tactics. Read on to discover how you can, too.


Jennifer Anderson

Jennifer Anderson, MBA, RRT, AE-C

Director, Respiratory Care and Pulmonary Function Labs

AU Medical Center

Shadow individual team members to gain a better understanding of their needs

While each member of a COPD care team seeks to provide optimal care, they have different needs for bringing this to life. To help ensure the best outcomes, team members need to support one another. That’s why it’s essential to understand each other’s needs and how to help address them. In an effort to find common ground, this is the foundation every care team needs to build upon.


Anderson explains, “We are all under pressure to improve the quality of care while reducing cost, especially in today’s healthcare environment. This only becomes possible when diverse disciplines align.”

Live a day in their life


Want to understand others’ needs? Don’t just ask, live a day in their lives. Shadowing a team member throughout their work day has been shown to help2

Familiarize yourself with their challenges

Gain a holistic understanding among team members

Strengthen working relationships

Promote more efficient processes to overcome common problems

You have to be aware of those around you. That’s when you see the common goals and the opportunities to partner for the greater good of everyone.”


Jennifer Anderson, MBA, RRT, AE-C

Director, Respiratory Care and Pulmonary Function Labs AU Medical Center

Commit to each team member’s success


Knowing what each team member needs to succeed is a perfect start. But knowledge is only half the battle. Next, you need to commit to helping them solve their challenges in a greater effort to drive patient health. Their individual successes will promote team success and radiate quality throughout everything you do.


Start by bringing your team together to find common themes, barriers and opportunities. Often, individual issues are not as dissimilar as they seem. By uniting your team, you can bring these issues to the surface and work together to innovate meaningful solutions. This will help reinforce your commitment to helping each member achieve your common goal. In working through this, your team is sure to grow closer and stronger.

Sparking solutions


Here are some conversation starters to get your team thinking about alignment.


"What does successful COPD treatment look like to you?”

"What are the biggest challenges you face in providing treatment?”

"What can we do more/better/differently to overcome these challenges?

"What do we need that we don’t have today?”

"How can we partner in a more integrative way?”

"How have other care teams achieved this?”

Partner with peers outside of your department


While partnering with your immediate team is vital, partnering with other departments can help you think outside the box. You may even find that your challenges are similar to theirs—and their solutions may be just the ones you were looking for. This enables you to bring new ideas to your care team and to leverage best practices you never knew existed.

When you pay attention to what’s going on with other disciplines and ask what you can do to help, everyone becomes a potential partner.”

Jennifer Anderson, MBA, RRT, AE-C

Director, Respiratory Care and Pulmonary Function Labs AU Medical Center

You’ll find that while each individual has a different role, specialty, department or area of focus, you ultimately share one common goal.

Establishing new partnerships to illuminate new ideas


Here are five steps to making connections and fueling conversations that benefit everyone.


Reach out to department heads to convey your ambitions and intentions


Coordinate cross-team collaboration sessions to share challenges


Listen to how others have solved challenges that may resemble yours


Offer your proven solutions to help address their needs


Refine and implement new ideas, then regroup to discuss results

Case Study: Turning a need into a better outcome

The need:


Anderson learned that patients were often struggling to stay healthy at home because they were having trouble obtaining their prescriptions.

The process:


She collaborated with her pharmacy department to discuss these issues and identify solutions.

The answer:


They implemented a meds-to-beds program, driven by the pharmacy department, to connect patients with prescriptions and education before discharge.

The outcome:


This dramatically reduced readmissions and the pharmacy achieved significant savings over the course of a year.

Building your foundation for success


With so many different disciplines included on one team, finding common ground can be quite a challenge. Fortunately, Jennifer Anderson’s experience shows that with a few simple steps, you can begin aligning your team today. When you build from there, anything in care is possible.

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Further reading

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COPD insider


1. Amalakuhan B, Adams SG. Improving outcomes in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: the role of the interprofessional approach.

Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2015; 10:1225–1232. Accessed March 16, 2018.
2. Raouna K. The Benefits of Job Shadowing. Career Addict website. https://www.careeraddict.com/the-benefits-of-job-shadowing. Published September 13, 2015. Accessed March 16, 2018.

As COPD continues to plague millions of people, we continue searching for solutions. Each new initiative or program is another step forward in care delivery. As you and your team embark on new, innovative initiatives, rely on COPD insider for the proven strategies that can bring success closer.

All content on this site is for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional. Always seek the advice of your physician or other health care provider with any questions you may have about any medical condition.  Refer to the Terms of Use for additional information.

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