There is a huge project underway to teach healthcare collaboration.
Case Western Reserve University Health Education is embarking on a $500 million joint project with the Cleveland Clinic. When it opens in 2019, it will have 8.5 football fields of space.
And, according to its organizers, it is both entirely necessary and very, very hard.
This project is a bold one, and we applaud it. In our work with iClickCare, we see how the telemedicine or healthcare collaboration tool is important -- but each provider's mentality is the bigger piece of the puzzle. If a collaborative approach can be taught, and practiced from the start, it could be transformative in medicine.
There are 4 crucial facts about healthcare collaboration that we think this project points to:
- Healthcare collaboration is crucial to modern medicine.
"Healthcare is no longer a gladiatorial sport, where you had the one healthcare provider — you know, mano a mano, one on one — battling a disease," says Dr. James Young the cardiologist in charge of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. "I'm involved with heart transplantation and mechanical devices for the heart... Boy, you can't do it by yourself!"
- Trying to do it all yourself is old-fashioned -- but very much the default.
The reason this initiative is so important is because most medical providers don't collaborate in their medical training. The only time we work across the spectrum of care is when we are already practicing — and then we have to invent collaboration on our own. The default in all of our medical training — as nurses, PAs, doctors, etc — is to work on our own, not on a team.
- A team-based approach decreases mistakes.
Dr. Patricia Thomas, internist and vice dean of medical education at the Case Western Reserve medical school explains that medical mistakes can be avoided with healthcare collaboration. As she said, "the root of many of our errors had to do with the fact that our professions were not working effectively together for patient care."
- Multiple viewpoints make for a richer discussion. And ultimately there needs to be a decider.
"The students discuss and argue about which of the patient's problems to address first… They don't end up reaching much of a consensus, but faculty members overseeing the group say that's OK." So multiple viewpoints — especially in collaboration across the continuum of care — does add richness to the diagnostic conversation. That said, that's why we always advocate for a single provider making decisions about the case. Every iClickCare case is structured to facilitate conversation — but usually one provider makes the deciding call, in the end.
This type of iniatiative is crucial to our progress in medicine. It may not be flashy, or involve expensive hardware, but it will lay the groundwork for the kind of medicine we all want to practice, and the care we all want to receive.
We put together a Quick Guide to medical collaboration, which you can download for free: