Interprofessional collaboration in healthcare is vital, and clinicians can now learn more about their role in an interprofessional team via continuing education offerings. Collaborative strategies are industry-standard solutions these days for everything from outdated communication and filing systems to complex surgeries, and even social awareness and community inclusion.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), interprofessional collaboration occurs when “multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds work together with patients, families, careers and communities to deliver the highest quality of care across settings.”
In short, it’s about improving healthcare by working together. Interprofessional collaboration and education have become essential to the delivery of the highest quality care, and there are many aspects beyond direct patient treatment that are having a major impact.
Why is Interprofessional Collaboration in Healthcare Important?
Interprofessional collaboration is intended to capitalize on the expertise of healthcare professionals across many roles, some of which may not be part of their traditional job description. To be clear, interprofessional collaboration does not just mean physicians working with other physicians. The integration of knowledge and skills through both professional disciplines and administration creates an environment of shared decision-making through the various layers of care experienced by patients.
Therefore, it’s insufficient to reduce interprofessional collaboration in healthcare to improving patient outcomes. It’s far more nuanced and sophisticated. Healthcare outcomes are dependent on many different intrinsic and extrinsic factors in the medical industry, and they include things like billing ease, communication, efficiency, and affordability that all add up to a big picture of “the patient experience.”
The Challenges of Communication
Interprofessional collaboration in healthcare has had a huge impact on the speed and clarity of communication in the industry. Communication is one of the most challenging problems confronting the medical industry today, with healthcare professionals facing complications and inefficiencies from antiquated technology, dated strategies, and shifts in the basic architecture of specialized care.
Historically, different specialties and service lines have operated largely independently of one another. Evolving expectations of speed and accuracy have exposed the failings this approach entails. Technological advances support improved communication through electronic medical records and mechanisms of information sharing that have begun unifying healthcare into a more organized network of resources.
With improved communication comes a reduction in medical errors. Being able to retrieve records in a timely manner, or reach out to another service line for something as simple as a medication history, creates significant layers of safety. Improved communication is helping to mitigate the impact of the 100,000 preventable deaths occurring as a result of medical errors every year in the U.S.
Interprofessional collaboration allows these problems to rise to the surface, as industry stakeholders are able to express the problems that directly impact the relationships they are trying to cultivate.
Efficiency and Value
With interprofessional collaboration in healthcare comes greater efficiency in cost savings and timeliness of care. That old saying, “work smarter, not harder” is put into action as we bridge the gaps between different members of the care team. Additionally, greater efficiency and success in providing care can have a beneficial impact on the healthcare providers themselves through improved satisfaction in their role.
As healthcare becomes more efficient, it allows room for focus on the expansion of services. Healthcare quality and access are one of the five social determinants of health as identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. An exciting outgrowth of interprofessional collaboration efforts is the impact it can have on the health and wellness of underserved populations who would otherwise be facing health disparities.
How LGBTQIA+ Populations Can Benefit from Interprofessional Collaboration
Interprofessional collaboration offers particularly exciting possibilities for improving healthcare for underserved or marginalized populations. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially older adults, have long felt the impact of stigma and discrimination within the healthcare system. These experiences breed fear and distrust, which creates a barrier to health and wellness.
The resulting gaps in preventative medicine leads to increased rates of heart disease, diabetes, gynecological cancers, and mental health challenges.
Interprofessional collaboration in healthcare aimed at supporting populations like the LGBTQIA+ community, and initiatives generate a focused effort to bring together culturally competent health professionals sensitive to the community’s context and challenges. By improving communication, knowledge, and efficiency across disciplines like nursing, social services, mental health experts, and medical providers, new communities can be introduced to better healthcare possibilities.
That means higher revenues for hospitals, healthier people, and happier outcomes.
For more information about culturally competent care and eliminating historically oppressive practices, check out Anti-discriminatory Practice as Cultural Competence With LGBTQIA+ Patient Populations offered by Premiere Education.
Improving Healthcare through Interprofessional Collaboration
Interprofessional collaboration in healthcare is one of the most promising strategies for improving both big-picture challenges and patient-level outcomes. It’s happening now, and it’s going to be the future of the healthcare industry. You’re going to need to stay up to date, on point, and keep honing your skills with interprofessional continuing education too.
Premiere Education is leading the CE industry on developing courses and content by interprofessional experts in their fields. Check out our courses to stay ahead of the game.