Creating the Virtual Team: Application to Diabetes Mellitus Disease Management
The increased reliance on patient self-generated data has had a major impact on the development of the virtual team in the management of diabetes mellitus. Only recently has the concept of the virtual team been taken seriously in the management of the individual with diabetes, in part due to the availability of large amounts of patient self-generated data. Team development, especially for a virtual team, is a careful process, in which self-assessment, team building, and identification of roles and responsibilities take place before the team performs. This process has been termed `forming, storming, norming, and performing' in recognition of the stages of team development and the importance of passing through each stage before initiating the next. Research has identified four additional factors that need to be addressed for the virtual team to complete its development and to assure improved clinical outcomes: organizational support, a common approach to diabetes care based on specific clinical protocols, ongoing measurement, and incentives. The creation, organization, and implementation of virtual teams depend upon several inter-related factors. The ideal model permits synchronized communications between team members so that timely decisions can be made in a transparent manner, enabling the person with diabetes to fully participate. From a structural perspective, the team needs organizational support, common care protocols, a means of measuring performance (including, but not limited to, outcomes), and incentives for all participants.
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