Structuring the Implementation Team

The first step in developing an Implementation Team is to recruit a team leader. This strong champion believes in and promotes the value of this work and can motivate others to improve access and quality of care for SGM patients. The team leader should also have good organizational and interpersonal skills and the respect of their colleagues. Once selected, the team leader should participate in recruiting the other team members.

The team should be a manageable size with perhaps 4-6 individuals, depending on the number of employees at the clinic. The team should meet at least monthly, although the frequency will depend on the tasks at hand. In some instances, there may already be a group of stakeholders working on quality improvement initiatives at the clinic who could function as the Implementation Team to avoid duplicating efforts or straining already stretched resources.

The makeup of the team will vary from clinic to clinic. Teams should comprise diverse professionals in the primary care field, including clinic administrators and frontline staff, such as medical assistants, navigators, health educators, patient services representatives, benefits coordinators, and front office staff. The team should also include service providers such as physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, therapists, and pharmacists. Teams may include SGM patients and other community stakeholders who are likely to be affected by the organizational change and can offer guidance and support.

All team members must have a genuine interest in fostering organizational change to improve services for SGM people. They should also be flexible in effectively getting the desired policies, practices, and changes implemented in the clinic. In short, effective Implementation Team members:

  • Are willing, committed, and reliable;
  • Have good communication skills;
  • Have knowledge and/or technical skills to share;
  • Can listen and strive to understand the views of others;
  • Are well-respected by others in the clinic and the surrounding community; and
  • Have a track record of “getting things done.”

The Implementation Team should not work alone. The team may want to enlist assistance from clinic staff who can play key roles in implementing specific recommendations. For example, if the team decides to create electronic smart forms or modify the electronic health record (EHR), involving staff who specialize in information technology (IT) will be helpful to determine software needs. In addition, if the team is interested in bolstering the clinic’s capacity to refer patients to SGM-supportive services elsewhere in the community, the team may wish to enlist the aid of a patient navigator and/or outreach worker who can ensure that the referrals are accessible and appropriate.