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Doctors are intelligent but teams of doctors and nurses can be more intelligent. That is what patients should ask for in order to get the best outcome possible.

Anita Woolley is a professor at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon. Her area of research relates to the field of collective intelligence. What factors make a team more intelligent?

The individual I.Q.’s of the team members did not make the team more intelligent. Instead, the smartest teams were distinguished by three characteristics.

1) Their members contributed more equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate.

2) Members scored higher on testing called ” Reading The Mind In The Eyes”. This measures how well people can read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible.

3) Teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. It was “diversity” that made for a smarter team.

It was would be a good idea for medical schools to introduce these principles to medical students so that they understand how to work smart right from the start.

Nowadays, patients are seen by doctors using tele-health tools like skype and google drive. Often, patients will never meet their doctors face to face.

With tele-health and online teams, the most important ingredients for a smart team remain constant: members who communicated a lot, participated equally and possessed good emotion-reading skills.

Emotion reading mattered just as much for online teams as it did for face to face teams.

The conclusion for patients is that they should ask that their medical team follow the 3 principles described by Dr Woolley and her very smart team.