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Why Excessive Focus on Specialists Hurts Care Coordination

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Feb 06, 2018 @ 06:01 AM

helloquence-61189-2.jpgClickCare was founded by a specialist (reconstructive surgery) and a generalist (pediatrics). 

Because of that, we've always valued the unique perspectives that different kinds of providers bring. As a reconstructive surgeon, I have a unique perspective on what's possible in certain types of surgeries, and have sophisticated takes on wound healing. As a pediatrician, Cheryl's diagnoses of childhood disease has always seemed like a sixth sense and her synthesis of complex variables in treatment verges on the miraculous. 

But the medical team is made up of far more than just specialist doctors and generalist doctors. It's made up of a team that includes aides, nurses, home care providers, nurse practitioners, PAs, and all of the other providers who "do medicine" on a daily basis. 

In a post we published a few weeks ago, we talked about the possibilities and challenges of leadership and teams in healthcare. We looked at how to develop leaders and leadership within care teams. We discussed an article in the New England Journal that pinpointed how crucial this is and explored some of the factors in effective healthcare leadership. 

And although we mentioned that leadership comes from across the continuum of care, I've noticed that when we say "consult", people hear "specialist." When we say "leadership", people hear "doctors." And when we say "collaboration," people think "between two providers."

Realistically, healthcare simply cannot withstand more years in which we focus on specialists (to the exclusion of the rest of the continuum of care); look at consultations as being only FROM the aide or nurse, the generalist TO the specialist; and regard the tertiary care center as inherently stronger.

That's why we wanted to highlight a few things that we think are crucial to healthcare moving forward in today's context:

  • The tertiary center has expertise, but also the local originator has complementary expertise.
  • Collaboration and care coordination MUST use technology that allows collaboration among all members of the team, not just text messages between two members -- that answers a question but doesn't ultimately support the whole team in moving forward.
  • Not just licensed professionals, but everyone who cares for the patient, has a contribution. To focus on researchers and clinicians is to only touch the tip of the iceberg of those who care for the patient. 

We can all act on the knowledge that care coordination depends on the whole team -- not just the "top of the pyramid" of the hierarchy. It starts with us. It starts with our valuing the perspectives of each person caring for the patient. And it starts with using tools that allow us to do healthcare collaboration and care coordination in team-oriented ways.


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Tags: care coordination, healthcare collaboration

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