Staffing Temporary Teams: Understanding the Effects of Team Familiarity and Partner Variety
52 Pages Posted: 22 May 2018 Last revised: 6 May 2020
Date Written: May 5, 2020
In the emergency department (ED), temporary teams of physicians and nurses work together to deliver patient care. We examine how team familiarity and partner variety affect the performance of ED teams and whether these effects vary depending on how long ago the experiences were accumulated. Addressing these questions are important for equipping managers with actionable recommendations, as the existing literature provides limited insight regarding the temporal nature of these effects. We use visit-level data from a hospital ED and leverage the ad hoc team assignment and the round-robin assignment of patients to these teams as our identification strategy. To measure team familiarity and partner variety, respectively, we vary the length of the lookback window from the past 1 to 12 months. We find that while there is a significant positive impact of team familiarity on performance, there is a significant negative impact of nurses’ partner variety on performance and there is no meaningful impact of physicians’ partner variety on performance. The magnitudes of these effects do not differ based on whether the experiences were accumulated longer ago as opposed to more recently, which suggests there is not a measurable forgetting effect. As such, ED managers should staff physician-nurse teams to maximize team familiarity, which will in turn minimize physicians’ and nurses’ partner variety. In addition, team familiarity should be measured using a relatively long lookback window. Using counterfactual analyses, we illustrate that doing so would allow the study ED to treat 7 percent more patients without increasing staffing levels.
Keywords: temporary teams, team staffing, team familiarity, partner variety, health care
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