One of the things that comes most naturally to me is the simple act of collaborating with other medical providers. I've just always enjoyed the process of chatting with a nurse about a patient, or hashing out a plan on a whiteboard in the surgeon's lounge.
But over the course of my career, I was always surprised at the amount of recognition these simple acts of collaboration received. For instance, I started an interdisciplinary group of medical providers to care for complex craniofacial patients. This Cleft and Craniofacial Team meet monthly (snacks, of course, in abundance) to discuss our current cases. The team included social workers, speech pathologists, dentists, teachers, plastic surgeons, and nurses, among many others. We were honored by the positive feedback we received about this, both in terms of the patient outcomes and in terms of the process we used.
It seemed intuitive enough to me, given the complexity of these cases, but a recent New York Times article highlights how unusual this kind of interdisciplinary healthcare collaboration really is.
As Dr. Dhruv Khullar shares: "There is surprisingly little education on what it means to be a leader of a medical team, with its nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, dieticians and case managers. There is even less discussion of how to understand one another’s roles, perspectives, frustrations and limitations… despite near-universal recognition that better care means more collaborative care, changes to health professional school curricula have been slow coming."
New payment models (with Accountable Care Organizations, changes to Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements, and a focus on performance rather than services) demands more collaboration than ever. But medical providers seem less enabled, less trained, and less able to collaborate than before. There are some initiatives that are trying to change that, including the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education. Mostly, however, medical organizations are slow to catch up and may be blindsided by the consequences.
We, of course, created iClickCare because we believe in the power of this kind of collaboration. It's just one tool, but ultimately, the desire to collaborate lies in each medical provider's hands.
Our best suggestion? Do your best to keep collaborating, even when it seems clumsy or imperfect. That's the only way that we'll get better at it and the only way that we'll maintain these crucial links with each other.
Photo credit: steffen_ramsaier on Flickr, used under Creative Commons rights