The healthcare industry has undergone massive changes in recent decades. With rising costs and aging populations, the traditional model of primary care physicians as gatekeepers is evolving.
The days of the solo practitioner are ending. We’re moving towards integrated, team-based care with a mix of providers.
- Improved access and coordination
- Shared accountability and collaboration
- Holistic, patient-centered care
Bringing together various types of clinicians allows them to work at the top of their licenses. It leverages their unique skills and expertise.
There are many types of team-based models:
- Primary care teams with physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, medical assistants
- Specialist-led teams (e.g. cancer centers)
- Community health teams
The exact composition depends on the patient population and needs. But good communication and clear roles are critical.
Innovations in health IT allow providers to collaborate remotely. Team members can be in different locations.
With telehealth, clinicians can consult with colleagues across the country. Specialists can beam into primary care settings when needed. This expands access to expertise.
Chronic disease patients can be monitored remotely with at-home devices. This allows providers to intervene early before conditions worsen. Data is shared between team members.
Systems like Epic allow vital information to be shared between unaffiliated providers. This paints a more complete picture of the patient.
For some, it may feel less personal at first. But there are ways to maintain strong relationships.
Taking time to explain roles and communicate clearly is key. Patients who feel dismissed or confused will disengage.
Seeing the same set of faces at each visit helps patients build rapport. Even in large groups, individual providers can be assigned.
Teams should elicit patients’ priorities and make shared decisions. Engaged patients have better health outcomes.
There is no single formula for structuring a care team. But some best practices are emerging.
The PCP quarterback navigates patients through the system and coordinates care. They oversee prevention and chronic disease management.
Incorporating collaborating physician nurse practitioners increases access and flexibility. They can treat minor illnesses and handle chronic care.
With in-depth drug knowledge, pharmacists ensure complex regimens are safe and effective. They can advise on lower-cost options too.
By identifying social determinants like food and housing insecurity, social workers remove barriers to health. They connect patients to community resources.
For chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease, dietitians provide personalized nutrition advice and counseling. They help patients modify eating habits.
Team-based, patient-centered care is becoming the standard. Communication, coordination and trust are essential to make it work. The results are worth it – improved outcomes, lower costs and better patient and provider experiences.