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Healthcare teamwork best practices: lessons for industry

Martín Tanco (CITEM, Universidad de Montevideo, Montevideo, Uruguay, and Industrial Department, TECNUN (University of Navarra), San Sebastian, Spain)
Carmen Jaca (Industrial Department, TECNUN (University of Navarra), San Sebastian, Spain)
Elisabeth Viles (Industrial Department, TECNUN (University of Navarra), San Sebastian, Spain)
Ricardo Mateo (School of Economics and Business Administration, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain)
Javier Santos (Industrial Department, TECNUN (University of Navarra), San Sebastian, Spain)

The TQM Journal

ISSN: 1754-2731

Article publication date: 4 October 2011




Since the field of healthcare was a latecomer to the quality movement, knowledge transfer has generally flowed in one direction, from industry to healthcare. However, organisations can also be enriched by healthcare. In particular, this paper aims to show industry that important lessons can be learned regarding how teamwork is generally managed within healthcare.


To identify the useful lessons that healthcare can teach industry, the authors started with a brainstorming session among the members of the research team to pin‐point the lessons based on their experience with healthcare and industrial environments. Afterwards, an exhaustive review of the relevant literature from the last ten years was carried out.


Industrial organisations need to develop teamwork frameworks focused on involving every employee in cross‐disciplinary, empowered and trained teams. Moreover, from a team perspective, special care must be shown when defining clear roles, focusing on end clients, formulating shared objectives and facilitating internal communications.

Practical implications

The ten lessons from healthcare teamwork best practices believed to be the most important are given in the paper. Although some of these lessons may not be completely new concepts for industrial organisations, the paper shows how healthcare develops, spreads and applies these concepts in the real world.


The paper summarises, in ten useful lessons for organisations, healthcare's best teamwork practices in the literature.



Tanco, M., Jaca, C., Viles, E., Mateo, R. and Santos, J. (2011), "Healthcare teamwork best practices: lessons for industry", The TQM Journal, Vol. 23 No. 6, pp. 598-610.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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