Sunday, December 18, 2022

Running a meeting, for Clinical Leaders

Hi fellow CMIOs, CNIOs, Informatics friends, and other clinical leaders,

For this last post of 2022, I'm sharing some helpful slides I've used when presenting to new clinical leaders about the importance of knowing how to plan and run a good meeting

To keep things short, let's focus on five basic things : The importance of running a good meeting, the most common types of meetings, common meeting problems, common meeting solutions, and some final tips

As a clinical leader, running a meeting can sometimes feel a bit like herding cats - At your meeting, you will no doubt have different types of people, with different roles, different experiences, different needs, and different ideas of what needs to be done : 

So if you're planning and running the meeting, it's your responsibility to anticipate these different experiences and different needs, and create a productive discussion that helps solve a defined problem, or create a desired outcome. Especially in healthcare - failure to do this well can be very expensive, and potentially even create confusion :  

So it's helpful to keep in mind, a list of things that meetings should be, and a list of things that meetings should not be (click to enlarge) : 

Since the COVID pandemic, this has also created new challenges to running effective meetings, especially when on a video conferencing service. In-person meetings, online meetings, and hybrid meetings all have their own unique challenges and benefits, so it's helpful to plan carefully and maybe even more importantly, practice running a meeting in each arrangement : 

So what are the most common reasons to have meetings in Healthcare? They include: Education and information transfer, group decision-making, and collaborative development

And this leads us to the most common types of meetings in Healthcare, which include regular department meetings, emergent/urgent department/team meetings, committee meetings, planned project team meetings, and other common meetings (e.g. Morbidity and Mortality conferences, planning/strategy meetings, meetings to review clinical literature and needs, etc.)

Without good planning and support - there are some common problems which can occur, including poorly-defined charters, poorly-defined agendas, poorly-documented minutes, incorrect stakeholders, or inadequate attendance

Fortunately, the solution to these problems is usually to have well-defined charters, agendas, and minutes

Below, I've attached some data elements for a good committee or team charter

Another way of looking at those same data elements, contained in a good committee / team charter, is here (click to enlarge) : 
Assuming you have a good committee charter to set your team in the right direction, with clear responsibility, authority, and metrics of success - The next steps is to make sure you have a good agenda

Some of the data elements contained in a good agenda are here below :

Note that the agenda items typically divide into "old business" and "new business", as recommended by Robert's Rules of Order ( ), to allow you to revisit previous topics and add new ones in an organized, predictable way. 

For a more complete set of potentially relevant data elements that might be used in an agenda, you can also see the sample agenda template below (click to enlarge) :  

Recording the activities, discussions, and actions of the committee will require careful documentation of minutes - typically recorded by your secretary or someone who has the training, experience, and ability to take minutesMinutes are your official legal document, acknowledging who participated in the meeting, and what actions the committee took. They are so important that you will want to send them out to committee/team members, ask them to review them, ask for any edits/corrections, and bring back the final minutes for review and final approval at your next meeting. 

Some of the data elements contained in a good set of minutes include the below (click to enlarge) :

For a more complete set of data elements that might be used in a set of minutes, you can also see this sample minutes template below (click to enlarge) : 

This brings us to some of my closing tips for running a good meeting :
  • It's very helpful for every clinical leader to familiarize yourself with Robert's Rules of Order ( ), a well-known and helpful book on running all sorts of meetings - from small informal ones to large formal ones. In addition to meeting planning, you'll learn about chairperson responsibilities, and the different types of motions and actions that help make meetings run smoother.
  • Using the sample charter, agenda, and minutes templates that I've shared above can help you run your meetings in an organized and productive way.
And for my final tips
  • Practice, practice, practice - Running a meeting or chairing a committee takes work and practice. (Don't worry - Everyone eventually learns this skill!)
  • Learn from other Clinical Leaders - What worked? What didn't?
  • Remember the future of healthcare is shared governance - Healthcare is a team sport - You can learn a lot from your fellow nursing, physician, pharmacy, or other clinical leaders!
  • Keep reading and keep learning!
Always keep in mind that good, well-planned, productive meetings that give everyone confidence and clarity might take some work and planning - but they are completely achievable!

Remember this blog is for education and discussion purposes - Your mileage may vary!
Have any good tips or tricks to share with clinical leaders, for creating good committees or running good meetings? Feel free to share them in the comments section below!