Across health care, there is an increasing reliance on teams from a variety of specialties (e.g., nursing, physician specialties, physical therapy, social work) to care for patients.At the same time, medical error is estimated to be “the third most common cause of death in the US” , and teamwork failures (e.g., failures in communication) account for up to 70-80 percent of serious medical errors [2-5].
Teams offer the promise to improve clinical care because they can aggregate, modify, combine, and apply a greater amount and variety of knowledge in order to make decisions, solve problems, generate ideas, and execute tasks more effectively and efficiently than any individual working alone .
Given this potential, a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals could ideally work together to determine diagnoses, develop care plans, conduct procedures, provide appropriate follow up, and generally provide quality care for patients.
This is an effect based in simple probability: if all group members know a piece of information, for example an attribute of a job candidate, that information is more likely to be mentioned during a group discussion than information known by only one member .
As a result, uniquely held, important knowledge could go unspoken because members are less likely to think of it.
A common thread in this work is the idea that these group structures and processes associated with collective intelligence are enhancing the quality of information sharing in the team .
The speculation is that members who pick up on a wider variety of subtle cues, and teams that operate in a manner that incorporates multiple perspectives, will operate with more and better information than they would otherwise.
Team members must first share relevant knowledge (i.e., knowledge about the task at hand) with others, and, second, that voiced knowledge must impact the team’s work.
The communication processes of speaking up and influencing others both come with challenges. The challenge for effective information sharing begins with identifying who should be on the team, which can help to facilitate knowledge sharing.
These patterns of interaction among team members allow teams to make good use of members’ expertise—a key reason teams could be effective in health care—but capitalizing on a team’s collective expertise is surprisingly difficult.
The process of expertise use in teams is multifaceted.