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Hearing Buzz About Medical Collaboration? Here's What It Means.

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Mar 11, 2014 @ 08:27 AM


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Medical Collaboration

As you'll know from our other blog posts, we really believe in medical collaboration. This kind of interaction and problem-solving with our colleagues has been one of the most effective and rewarding parts of our careers as physicians.

So, we talk about medical collaboration a lot… but what does it mean?

Some of our other posts have more in-depth descriptions of medical collaboration, how telemedicine relates, HIPAA considerations, etc. But this post is about a few core pieces of medical collaboration that can help you figure out how to use it in your life.  

A definition

Wikipedia's definition of collaboration is: "working with each other to do a task and to achieve shared goals." Despite the fact that Wikipedia has only a single sentence on medical collaboration, the simple definition captures the way in which medical collaboration functions. We work together as medical providers to solve problems, share cases, or ease our workload, with the common goals of caring for patients, dealing with regulatory issues, and practicing in the ways we aspire to.

Over the decades of our practice, we've seen "medical collaboration" come in and out of favor. During some periods, and in some places, medical collaboration was status quo. During other decades, medical collaboration was all but condemned by the adminstration. Never used before 1880, it shows up increasingly in books as reflected in this chart that shows how frequently the word itself has been used over the decades. 

Even in WWII, "collaboration" was used in the negative sense of collaborators with the enemy. But in the last several years, we've seen real growth in how much our colleagues want to collaborate. We see our fellow healthcare providers wanting to share the joys and the struggles of caring for our patients.

Some examples

We've heard stories of medical collaboration from all corners of the globe, in all kinds of situations, for many different reasons. (And we put together this guide to explore these.) Examples of medical collaboration include:

  • Consults from the athletic training room to a surgeon or orthopedist
  • Questions to medical specialists from family doctors
  • Nurses getting opinions from other nurses
  • CNAs working with nurse practitioners on tricky cases
  • Nurse practitioners, PAs, and doctors ringing in on a patient's treatment
  • A whole team supporting a senior living or assisted living center in serving its patients
  • ... and everything in between.


When people think about beginning to collaborate, they're usually beginning for one of a few key opportunities:

  • They want to improve patient care and need to "loop in" the expertise or experience of other providers to do so
  • Patient satisfaction is important to them and medical collaboration will help them achieve it
  • They're concerned about one or more regulatory issues and want to use medical collaboration to help do things like decrease readmissions or drop length of stay.
  • HIPAA concerns are coming up and they want to create a HIPAA-safe way 

What are the advantages?
What are the opportunities for care, legal risk, marketing, customer satisfaction (family, patient), marketing?

We find this book by Stephan Willis on collaboration quite interesting, although not focused on medical collaboration specifically.

A medical collaboration resource

We were really inspired by the stories of collaboration from the medical world and beyond, so we put together a free resource with inspiring stories, key strategies, and easy ways for you to collaborate today:


ClickCare Quick Guide to Medical Collaboration



Image courtesy of, used under Creative Commons rights.


Tags: collaboration, hybrid store and forward medical collaboration, medical collaboration software, store and forward medical collaboration

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