Huddles in primary care: promoting healthy team dynamics

Dr Jillian Denovan MRCGP, Dr Jamie Dawe, Dr Krithika Loganath Huddle-example
Pathfields Medical Group, Plymouth

The results of our practice safety culture survey (SCORE -Safety, Communication, Operational Reliability and Engagement) showed opportunity to improve teamworking within the practice. A review of the literature suggested that Huddles would support this.

Huddles are team-based meetings aimed at providing a forum for highlighting operational and patient safety concerns.(1,2)

Huddles, are used widely in the pre-operative hospital setting, and have demonstrated improvement in team communication, patient safety and staff satisfaction in primary care.(1,2) Most importantly, a team with greater cohesiveness produce better clinical outcomes and higher patient satisfaction.(3)

Using the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Model for Improvement we designed a huddle template form and information spread sheet. We concurrently tested five minute huddles commencing daily at 8:15am at each of our four primary care practices. To reduce hierarchy within the team, huddles were led by a variety of practice staff, not limited to managers or doctors.

The template covers important operational information which includes; staffing issues, patient requirements and team dynamics.  A total of four study outcomes were monitored in the six week period following huddle introduction.

Huddles were undertaken by all of the practices on 69.7% of working days. Concerns were raised in 76% of huddle meetings and 83% staff perceive that the introduction of huddles has improved teamwork dynamics within our practices.

Huddles were well received by staff within our organisation. Huddles improve the operational fluency and team-work dynamics within our  practices.


  1. Glymph DC, et al. Healthcare Utilizing Deliberate Discussion Linking Events (HUDDLE): A Systematic Review. AANA J. 2015 Jun;83(3):183-8
  2. Fogarty CT, Schultz S. Team huddles: the role of the primary care educator.Clin Teach. 2010 Sep;7(3):157-60
  3. Grumback K, Bodenheimer T. Can health care teams improve primary care practice? JAMA. 2004 Mar 10;291(10):1246-51

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