Improving Patient Care with Interprofessional Collaboration

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The National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education has established that high-functioning teams can improve the outcomes, experience, and costs of healthcare. And a recent report by the Institute of Medicine also outlines the “positive impact that interprofessional collaboration and teamwork can have on key dimensions of organizational performance.”*

*Source: Institute of Medicine. Measuring the Impact of Interprofessional Education (IPE) on Collaborative Practice and Patient Outcomes: A Consensus Study. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2015.

Read on to see how interprofessional collaboration has a positive impact on patient outcomes, patient experience, and the cost of treatment.

Improving patient outcomes

Imagine you’ve been involved in a car accident and require urgent medical care. From roadside to bedside, you’ll likely be treated by more than a few clinical disciplines: EMTs who transport you to a hospital, nurses and PAs who assess your condition, doctors who provide advanced care, pharmacists who prescribe drugs, physical therapists who work with you to achieve a full recovery, and more.

Now imagine what would happen if these caregivers had minimal communication with one another. Do you think your treatment outcome would be worse than it would be if they worked as a team, communicating and collaborating throughout the full continuum of care in all settings? Yes, it very well would!

Interprofessional care allows clinicians to share knowledge and work toward a common goal: improved patient outcomes. Interprofessional education encourages each professional to learn the ins and outs of their teammates’ roles and responsibilities, making them better able to provide patient-centered care—a new gold standard described by the Institute of Medicine as treatment that is “respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.”

Enhancing patient experience

Patient experience is an integral component of health care quality. But what is it?

Patient experience is linked to the satisfaction patients have with their healthcare treatment plan, including their ability to book timely appointments, have easy access to information, and maintain good communication with health care providers. Patient experience also covers the range of interactions patients have within the healthcare system, from their care by hospital staff and clinicians in doctors’ offices, to pharmacists, medical recordkeepers, and health insurance representatives.

In order to enhance patient experience, all of these diverse disciplines must work as a single, high-functioning interprofessional care team. Interprofessional care improves communication and collaboration, and reduces errors.

Reducing healthcare costs

There’s no question that top-quality healthcare sometimes comes with a high price tag. But there are ways to reduce the cost of care without diminishing its quality.

Interprofessional care helps close communication gaps and reduce ongoing patient care problems, including misdiagnosis. When a patient is misdiagnosed or given the wrong medications, there’s a chance they’ll need to be readmitted– at a high cost both to themselves and the medical facility. When practitioners increase collaboration with each other and with their patients, patients receive effective treatment the first time.

Interprofessional collaboration also helps to cut down on overlap and redundancies in healthcare. An interprofessional team may make clinical rounds together, or meet to debrief and develop patient care plans.

Interprofessional care: a clinical best practice

Medical errors continue to be a leading cause of mortality in the United States—interprofessional collaboration may be a key to curbing this statistic. When it comes to patient outcomes, quality is more than a metric: high-functioning interprofessional care teams help people live better, more healthy lives.

Schedule a free consultation to learn how you can improve patient outcomes by implementing a simulation-based interprofessional collaboration curricula at your institution. 
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