2022 Quality

Hospital Quality Improvement Showcase - Bellin Health System, Green Bay

Tiered Huddles Drive Improved Communication, Real-Time Problem-Solving  

The COVID-19 pandemic made it more important than ever for Bellin Health to fully understand daily operations, prioritize what was most important and open daily lines of communication between senior leaders, employees and providers across a broad geographic range. Situational awareness, prioritization and communication were key—as was celebrating wins during what continued to be a difficult time for individuals across the organization. And it all had to happen quickly, given the incredible demands on time for everyone from frontline staff to behind-the-scenes support and senior leaders.

Enter tiered huddles, a mechanism that provides daily insight into performance across the organization and within each facility, service line and support department while empowering teams at all levels to identify and solve problems daily. These standing 10- to 15-minute Monday-Friday meetings focus on positivity and wins, as well as any imminent risks to Bellin’s core business that need to be addressed. The three tiers of Bellin’s tiered huddle structure allow for effective and efficient cascading of information that facilitates fast problem-solving and an improved overall communication structure.

“We knew we had to be extremely strategic, efficient and focused if we were going to add daily standing meetings to our teams’ incredibly busy schedules,” said Bellin Health Chief Quality Officer Lisa Harton, who led this work with Chief Medical Officer Dr. Cynthia Lasecki and Chief Operating Officer Sharla Baenen. “What we have found is that these sessions have a host of benefits for our leaders and teams and have actually saved time through improved communication and a proactive focus on our core business and how we can help each other achieve the best outcomes.” 

Quantitative and qualitative analysis have shown the tiered huddle system is working for Bellin Health. This structure resulted in the following after studying and adjusting tiered huddles daily for 60 days during a pilot, weekly during the next 90 days, and then monthly:

A six-month post-implementation improvement review identified numerous benefits, including leaders feeling more connected with their own teams and other teams within the organization, including those in Bellin’s northern region. Leaders also cited improved communication, a proactive approach that focuses on core business, quick follow-up to concerns and a positive—not blame-based—approach to problem-solving. It’s all part of Bellin Health’s “we go together” philosophy, with tiered huddles facilitating the rapid deployment of resources when different areas of the organization are in need of help.

Tiered huddles are the first phase of the Bellin Operating System, which is a system-wide disciplined approach to service delivery and improvement that will support Bellin’s strategic goals and performance objectives. The Bellin Operating System is grounded in a culture in which everyone is capable, empowered and expected to make improvements every day. The tiered huddle team will continue to learn, study and adjust while linking the improvements to the 2023 safety culture and psychologic safety surveys.

“Tiered huddles are making a tremendous difference for our organization, but we know they are just the beginning of a future of continued quality improvement for Bellin Health,” said Baenen, the system’s COO. “We look forward to using this experience to leverage future improvements for the benefit of our teams—and ultimately for the patients, families and communities we serve.”