The NHS in the UK released its guidance on good governance in the wake of the Health and Care Act 2022. The act seeks to align the health and care sectors in order to facilitate better collaboration between stakeholders and eradicate health inequalities around the country.
Within the guidelines, governance is described as “the means by which provider boards direct and control their organisations so that decision-making is effective, risk is managed and the right outcomes are delivered.”
One of the key elements in effective decision-making is efficient and productive meetings. To streamline your processes and ensure your meetings are as productive as possible, you need a robust agenda.
This article provides advice, insight and a medical staff meeting agenda template to help you run better meetings and get those crucial decisions right.
The importance of a well-structured agenda
A meeting agenda is an essential tool for creating efficient and effective meetings. Here are some of the benefits of getting the agenda right:
|Better preparation||When attendees receive a copy of the meeting agenda in good time, they can prepare fully for the topics you will discuss. This allows for better-informed conversation and for more meeting members to contribute, as they have the opportunity to form an opinion or develop pertinent questions ahead of the meeting.|
|Momentum||An agenda lays out which topics you will discuss as well as the structural elements of the meeting, when they happen, in which order and how long they will last. This helps to keep the meeting moving forwards, as there is a clear road map to follow.|
|Cover all topics||This framework also means that you make it through all of the items for discussion, as they are laid out in front of all attendees and planned accordingly so that they fit into the timeframe of the meeting.|
|More effective collaboration||By gaining early access to a comprehensive agenda, meeting attendees can make suggestions on changes, additions and items they feel should be removed or discussed in more depth at another time. This collaboration can hone your meeting processes and increase their efficiency, ensuring everything you discuss in the meeting room is vital and valuable.|
Key steps to crafting a medical staff meeting agenda
In order to create a useful agenda for a medical staff meeting, you need to consider what you want to achieve in the meeting. Is it a general catch-up or is there a specific area of clinical practice that you need to cover?
What decisions does the meeting need to take for it to be a valuable use of time for busy medical staff members? In healthcare more than many other sectors, time is scarce and can literally mean life and death in some circumstances.
Consider these objectives at every stage of the process of building the agenda.
Knowing who will attend the meeting helps you craft an agenda that makes sense and will achieve the best decision-making. If there are no representatives of one of the departments within the healthcare setting, there is no point in discussing related topics.
By ensuring you make the most of the expertise in the room, you will gain the most value from the meeting and create action points that lead to significant changes. If there is no one with the required expertise to talk on a topic knowledgeably, it is difficult to achieve the best possible outcome.
Estimate time for each item
Your attendees’ time is precious, so you only have their presence for a limited time in the meeting room. In addition, meetings that last too long tend to become less effective as they progress. There is no absolute ideal length for a meeting, but many experts warn that people’s attention wanders as meetings progress, often after as little as 30 minutes.
However long your meetings are, you need to add time limits for each item. This helps you achieve all you need to achieve within a meeting and holds the focus of attendees for each agenda topic.
Distribute the agenda
Sending the agenda in advance of the meeting is important for gaining feedback on the running order and adjusting accordingly before the meeting. It also helps attendees research items that they may not be fully knowledgeable about.
Using a meeting portal, you can send the agenda securely online so it appears in each user’s account. They can annotate the document and you can receive automatic alerts when adjustments are made.
Implement feedback from participants
Once the agenda is annotated, you can make changes and update it. If you are using an online meeting portal, you can do all of this in the cloud, sending updates automatically on all users’ devices. This makes the most of the different healthcare specialities of your staff, who are best placed to make insightful suggestions.
Feedback from participants speeds up the process of agenda distribution, makes amendments quicker and more efficient, and saves paper and postal costs, too.
What should a medical staff meeting agenda include?
Make sure you list the date, time and location of the meeting, as well as a title for the meeting that describes the objective you are trying to achieve.
List the people you are inviting to the meeting, their role in the meeting and their area of expertise relating to the theme of the meeting.
Include details of the reason for the meeting and what you want to achieve by the end of it. Knowing whether a meeting is being called to set budgets or to discuss the use of a new medicine, for example, is helpful to prospective attendees in deciding whether they need to be there and how they should prepare.
Previous meeting minutes and actions
If the meeting is a regular governance meeting, there will be minutes from the previous meeting and attendees need to approve them.
These are the topics that you will discuss on the day. Attendees can research the items in advance to ensure they can make informed contributions.
Time for questions and answers
Leave room for questions from around the table. This helps clarify anything that attendees have not understood and facilitates better decision-making.
Any other business
If an attendee has anything relevant to contribute or to put to the group, this is the place to do so.
Action items summary
Reiterating any action items that arise within the meeting helps to remind participants of their duties following the meeting and keeps them accountable for following up on their set tasks.
Next meeting details
At this point in the meeting, the chair will announce any follow-up meeting that will take place.
Let participants know when the meeting will end so that they can plan their work calendar around the meeting.
Medical staff meeting agenda template
Here are some meeting agenda templates for use by medical staff. They provide a guide to creating an agenda that helps you in your governance efforts, maintaining effective collaboration with stakeholders.
Tips for success
- Share the agenda ahead of time: By sharing the agenda early, you create the right environment for an effective meeting. It also allows for collaboration to further finesse the running order of the meeting and make sure all parties gain the most benefit from it.
- Have minutes approved before the meeting: Approving minutes before the meeting or alert you to errors that need adjusting before approval. This saves time in the meeting and can be done with a meeting portal.
- Document actions and track progress: Monitoring how meeting members are progressing with action items from the meeting is an important step in ensuring they fulfil their responsibilities. Use a meeting portal so that attendees can check in with updates and let you know where you stand.
- Discuss cross-functional projects: At the heart of the NHS governance guidelines is the need for better collaboration between different functions and bodies within health and social care to create innovative solutions. Convening meetings featuring cross-functional teams provides a broader range of expertise and experiences that can aid innovative problem-solving.
- Balance tactical and strategic items: Strategy involves the long-term goals of the organisation and tactics are the short-term steps to get there. If a meeting is too heavy on strategy, it can seem less tangible and urgent. If you spend too long on tactics, you might miss the bigger picture. Balance items from both categories to ensure you maintain focus on your objectives and how you will get there.
- Regularly evaluate meetings: When you have the right meeting process in place, you can make decisions confident in the fact that you have properly considered all relevant angles. To ensure your meetings are working for you, evaluate them afterwards and consider what could have been done differently to improve the experience and outcome.
Case Study: Salisbury NHS Trust
The organisation relied on an outdated process that involved manual PDF creation and email distribution for their board papers. Kylie Nye, Head of Corporate Governance, noted that, because of this, preparing for trust board and committee meetings was “labour intensive”, especially when papers were submitted late or needed corrections.
To overcome this challenge, Salisbury NHS Trust implemented iBabs, the end-to-end board portal solution. With iBabs, Kylie found a system that not only simplified the meeting process but also had the capacity to swiftly handle late submissions, corrections and revisions. She says:
“Being able to log in quickly, upload a new paper, republish, and send out that notification to everyone saying, ‘please note that item 2.4 has been updated.’ That was the key thing.”
How often should medical staff meetings be held?
The frequency of medical staff meetings can vary depending on the healthcare setting and the urgency of issues that need to be addressed. Generally, it is advisable to have regular meetings, such as monthly or quarterly.
However, in cases of pressing issues or emergencies, more frequent meetings might be necessary. It's essential to strike a balance to ensure that meetings are regular enough to address important matters but not so frequent as to become burdensome.
How do you announce a staff meeting?
There are many ways to announce a staff meeting and the method you use depends on your department and the people within it. Some prefer email, others look for notices on physical boards whilst others use a shared online workspace. By using a meeting portal, everyone uses that platform to communicate about meetings, streamlining the process of announcing meetings.
How can the agenda ensure that patient care remains central to the discussion?
To ensure that patient care remains central to the discussion in medical meetings, the agenda should:
- Include patient-related topics: Dedicate specific sections of the agenda to patient care, including case studies, patient feedback and discussions on improving patient services.
- Encourage a patient-centric approach: Frame discussions and decision-making in terms of patient outcomes. Encourage staff to consider the impact on patients in all conversations and decisions.
- Feature educational segments: Include educational segments focused on patient care, such as new treatments, technologies or patient communication strategies.
- Focus on quality improvement: Regularly discuss quality improvement strategies, and ensure that enhancing patient care is a key objective.
How can medical staff effectively contribute to the meetings?
- Preparation: Medical staff should come prepared, having read the agenda and any relevant documents. They should think about how they can contribute to each agenda item.
- Active participation: Actively participate in discussions, ask questions, and provide insights based on their experiences.
- Proposing solutions: Instead of just pointing out problems, staff members should try to propose practical solutions.
- Listening actively: Pay attention to what others are saying, and try to build on their ideas.
- Giving constructive feedback: Provide constructive feedback, whether it’s on patient care, resources, or any other topic.
- Complete action items: If assigned a task during the meeting, make sure to complete it as agreed.
Using a medical staff meeting agenda template should help you create effective and useful communications with stakeholders. It ensures everyone knows what to expect and how long they will be needed for. For medical staff, with busy schedules, making sure meetings are as efficient as they can be is essential. They need to spend the least possible time but make the most important decisions with full knowledge of the topic.
Using iBabs’ meeting portal is the perfect way to give plenty of notice of a meeting and facilitate collaboration before the group gets together, meaning their time spent in the room is as effective as possible. Request a demo of iBabs today.