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If you have ever received healthcare and referred to the medical professionals delivering care to you like your healthcare team, you already have an understanding of the potential of interprofessional collaboration. As the introduction of new technology made healthcare evolve, the way health services are delivered has changed. In this article, we will dig deeper into the mechanics of interprofessional collaboration, and review a handful of reasons why it is the right tool for healthcare in today’s medical landscape.
Healthcare services have become more interconnected in recent years. As a result, the importance of coordinating care has become a high priority. Essentially, interprofessional collaboration is the practice of using a team-based perspective when approaching patient care. This would involve all disciplines necessary for the treatment of an individual patient. It could require the involvement of more than just a doctor and nurse. It may extend to the expertise of a pharmacist, social worker, and other medical professionals.
But can this work? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), facilities that implement interprofessional collaboration where all parties learn to work together, while still respecting each individual perspective on healthcare, several disciplines can join forces effectively in a team dynamic that improves patient outcomes. When you think about it, it makes sense. Your doctor consulting with a specialist, then both working with a nurse and pharmacist to bring you the best possible care while all working towards the same goal.
Sure, new technology has made it easy to communicate, but typically the formats are designed to bring people together from various physical locations. While this has a high level of success, interprofessional collaboration excels when the team members meet face-to-face to review treatment plans and patient progress. These meetings do not have to be long but must focus on the patient, the condition of the patient, the treatment plan, and the progress made with that treatment.
There are several benefits to implementing interprofessional collaboration. It starts with creating an atmosphere where such team building is easy to achieve. That is the collaborative culture. With the culture in place, there is a need for startups to invest in technology and communication strategies that support that culture. Then you will understand the following reasons why interprofessional collaboration can be key to delivering healthcare services in your facility.
Poor communication can be costly in the healthcare sector. Stats show that 250,000 deaths occur annually due to medical errors. John Hopkins states medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. It isn’t hard to imagine a single patient having multiple prescriptions filled out by numerous doctors – none of which have consulted with each other to see what treatment plan went into place. This is why clinical communication is so crucial. This boils down to a group discussion where a treatment plan is made and everyone involved sticks to the same plan. In other words, implementing interprofessional collaboration.
With interprofessional collaboration, waiting for decisions to be made or waiting for a doctor to review patient information or to consult with other medical professionals is no longer a long and drawn-out process. With the team approach, all concerned members will be able to offer their insight and suggestions at the same time. This brings the team to a final decision on a treatment plan far sooner than without everyone working together. The sooner the treatment is administered, the quicker the patient will get better.
The average patient admitted to the hospital will see several different healthcare professionals during their stay. Plus, medical personnel will receive input from other professionals who will only see charts, x-rays, or data about the patient. With so many people involved, it is easy for something to be missed or miscommunicated. With the team approach of interprofessional collaboration, the medical staff that needs to participate in a patient’s treatment get together and collaborate on what needs to be done. This approach improves the quality of care delivered to the patient and increases the positive outcomes.
The culture created by interprofessional collaboration gives each participant an equal voice regardless of skill or knowledge. This means that each member of the team plays a vital role and this community-based approach builds camaraderie. It also works toward contributing to the retention and recruitment of staff. When staff feels recognition for their contributions and respect from peers for making them, the workplace becomes a safe, productive environment.
Healthcare costs can be cut by interprofessional collaboration. It also saves healthcare facilities money just by streamlining the process that is followed with each patient seeking treatment. Rather than having to send away data and wait for medical opinions from specialists, the healthcare team would include the necessary specialists. All data would be shared and time reduced in formulating a long-term plan. A hospital study conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation showed that interprofessional collaboration had reduced the length of stay in the hospital, and increased the discharge rate before noon to noticeable differences. The survey also showed that surgical start times were improved which resulted in reducing hundreds of hours in delays as were commonly the standard.
We’ve often heard the importance of working as a team to achieve goals. Typically, teamwork spreads the workload out, permits better communication, and tasks are completed faster. That is the basic mechanics behind interprofessional collaboration. In healthcare, it only makes sense that such a concept would be adopted simply because of the many benefits the process provides. As outlined above, the healthcare industry has the expertise to achieve great things, but now with the application of interprofessional collaboration, this can easily become the new reality at hospitals, clinics, and all other healthcare service providers.