It may be a cliché to say that "two heads are better than one" but it's a cliché because it's true. In fact, "putting our heads together" with other medical providers has been one of the best parts of our career. It's good medicine and it's good for us as medical providers -- almost across the board. In particular, though, we find medical collaboration crucial when:
- There are several different providers that need to coordinate care for a single patient
- Length of stay and readmissions are key metrics for the organization
- There are providers at different points in the spectrum of care who need to communicate and ring-in on care (e.g., an aide, a nurse, and a specialist)
- A single patient may have several, intersecting medical issues
Medical collaboration can greatly help the interdisciplinary team formulate their care plans. When we speak with Long Term Care leaders about telemedicine and medical collaboration, they often express prioritization of all of the above.That's why we believe that there are significant opportunities in Long Term Care Communities to use medical collaboration, including:
Better patient care. When providers collaborate effectively, it prompts better care coordination, fewer delays in care, and more nuanced treatment plans. And when those things happen, better care is the result.
Cutting risk. Risk management is a big part of Long Term Care communities. Because the prioritization of patient independence is fundamental to their work, there is always a balancing of risk with wanting to avoid unnecessary interventions. Medical collaboration can effectively cut risk by providing the reassurance of multiple provider opinions.
Improved patient satisfaction. Patients and families are happier when patients stay off the examining table. Because medical collaboration can avoid unnecessary visits to the doctor and because it can improve communication with patients and their families, it often also increases satisfaction.
Decrease healthcare provider burnout. Studies show that the more isolated that providers feel, the more burned out they become. So beyond all the patient benefits, medical collaboration also benefits providers by helping them feel connected and supported.
Compliance with regulatory issues. Good medical collaboration and care coordination cuts length of stay and slashes readmissions -- so it will also help Long Term Care facilities keep their community members in their homes and lives -- and out of the hospital.
It doesn't matter whether you collaborate via Hybrid Store-and-Forward telemedicine because it's the easiest way to go -- or whether you use lower-tech means. The important thing is to look for ways to collaborate, even if it's a little at a time.
To get our free guide on collaboration -- with stories from the front lines of collaboration in real life click here:
Image courtesy of christianacare on Flickr, used under Creative Commons rights.