April 30, 2020

Virtual Huddle Boards – A Must-Have for Remote Teams

Rebecca Haymaker

Have you recently found yourself with a partially or fully remote team? Are you looking for ways to engage and communicate with your team members? If so, virtual huddle boards may be the solution you are looking for.

As a former Patient Access Director, I struggled to communicate with my team of over 200 patient access professionals. They were physically distributed across more than 15 locations, reported to different supervisors, and had varying roles and responsibilities. Not only was it hard to share information with them, but I struggled to stay connected to each location. Introduce the Virtual Huddle Board.

Huddle boards originate in Lean Management theory. ‘Kanban’ boards have been used in factories and corporations for years to manage the flow of work through the system. In the last 5-10 years we have started to see more lean concepts infiltrate their way into healthcare organizations. If you are interested in this topic, I recommend reading The Toyota Way to Healthcare Excellence by John Black.

The huddle board concept was a game changer for connecting with my teams, keeping everyone informed, and aligning goals. Start by designing the framework for your online huddle board. If you are new to huddle boards in healthcare, watch this video from Catholic Health Initiatives: Huddle Board System Basics. Here are some of the key components I found to be the most helpful:

  • Daily Announcements
  • Workflow Updates / Training Points
  • Safety Issues
  • Key Performance Indicators – Pick 2-3
  • Priorities for the Day
  • Daily Quote or some other team fun section

The most important part is simplicity, consistency, and team involvement. During your pilot period you will likely make many tweaks to your huddle board. Engage your team for feedback and incorporate their ideas/suggestions to make it their own. Let them jazz it up with decorations and colors!

Virtual Huddle Board Example

Once the huddle board is in place, establish a process for reviewing the board with the team. When working in the clinic this may be a 7-minute huddle where the team gathers around the huddle board. Team members rotate the facilitation of the morning huddle and board review. Make sure to leave time for questions. In this remote world we find ourselves in, the daily huddle can be held over a video meeting solution such as WebEx or Zoom. Follow up by sending out a link to the full team with your huddle board. If you are a leader with multiple teams, you will receive all the huddle boards each morning and can rotate your morning huddle attendance.

Implementing the huddle board concept for your teams is a great way to keep focus and alignment, while remembering to celebrate small wins along the way. It is easy to move them to the virtual setting for remote or distributed teams. The format above was made in PowerPoint, but any electronic medium will work. If you would like to learn more about virtual huddle boards and how they may support your teams, or would like a copy of the above template, please contact Rebecca Haymaker at The Wilshire Group – r.haymaker@thewilshiregroup.net.

Rebecca Haymaker

Vice President, Revenue Cycle Services

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