Skip to Content
Skip to Navigation

New IOM paper featuring Interim Dean Pamela Mitchell highlights key principles and values of team-based care


Date: October 2, 2012
Media Contact: Ashley Wiggin,, 206-221-2456

With team-based and interprofessional care quickly growing in the health care community, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a new discussion paper today that underscores the importance of shared goals, trust, and good team communication in the health care team. The complexity of health care today means that providers can no longer work in isolation, and the health care team must expand to include patients and their families and support persons. School of Nursing Interim Dean Pamela Mitchell is one of the authors on the paper, alongside authors from the American Medical Association, Rush University, American College of Clinical Pharmacy, PatientsLikeMe, and the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

“Working together with the interprofessional team that developed this paper, really brought home how important active collaboration is to improving health care delivery, ” said Mitchell. “Patients and their families need to be at the center of team-based care and we all need to learn how to work together in team settings.”

The paper, titled “Core Principles & Values of Effective Team-Based Health Care”, was developed by individual health professionals knowledgeable about team-based care and grew out of cooperative work through the Best Practices Innovation Collaborative, an activity of the IOM’s Roundtable on Value & Science-Driven Health Care. The IOM Discussion Paper describes the principles and values that facilitate the formation of thriving interprofessional health teams, while also ensuring that patients and their caregivers are full members of the team.

The establishment of common principles and values for effective team-based care will serve to reduce barriers to and help support facilitation of team-based care. These five personal values and five principles support innovation not only by enabling development of a unified team of health professionals but also by considering the patient and family to be vital team members. This inclusion allows the care delivered to be centered on the goals, priorities, and decisions of the patient and family. Honesty, discipline, creativity, humility, and curiosity are the personal values that support team-based care.

The five interrelated principles that characterize high-functioning teams include:

  • Shared goals: Teams, including the patient and, if appropriate, family/support, create goals, understood and supported by all, that focus on the desires of the patient and family.
  • Clear roles: Team members have clear responsibilities and roles understood by other members. This lets teams maximize their potential and stay flexible to patient goals.
  • Mutual trust: Teams develop and retain trust, both interprofessionally and with patients, to establish reciprocity and shared achievements in order to work at their full potential.
  • Effective communication: Members actively listen to one another, and especially to the patient. Teams must utilize and constantly refine all channels of communication.
  • Measurable processes & outcomes: Team members are constantly aware of and tracking processes/outcomes and team function. Feedback on goals and team function must be assessed in a reliable and consistent manner.

The success of these teams demonstrates the ability of team-based care to both improve interprofessional coordination and more actively incorporate patients and their families into the care process. This in turn has the potential to transform health care to better focus on the desires of the patient and their family.

 “Many of the ideas in this paper have been discussed within and among the health professions for some time, but the new contribution of this discussion paper is to highlight the principles based on the experience of high performing teams throughout the nation,” said Mitchell.

The School of Nursing has been at the forefront of interprofessional education, practice and research, with many faculty currently engaged in interprofessional collaboration in and out of the classroom. Read the full IOM press release and check out the discussion paper here.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) also featured a "Viewpoint" on the same topic in the October issue of the publication, which Mitchell was also involved in writing. Read that article here.

The University of Washington School of Nursing is consistently a top-rated nursing school, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ranked No. 2 in research funding from the National Institutes of Health in 2011, the UW School of Nursing is a national and international leader in improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. The school addresses society’s most pressing challenges in health care through innovative teaching, award winning research and community service. For more information, visit