The Team-Based Approach to Health Care

It shouldn't take extreme measures to get caregivers to work in a coordinated fashion, but the unusual experience of a physician's mother demonstrates that it can be done.

In an article in Academic Medicine, Steven L. Kanter, MD, describes how an unusual experience his mother had as a hospital patient helped spur a concerted effort to improve team-based care.

The need for interdisciplinary care is increasingly becoming recognized as essential if we want to improve health care outcomes and reduce costs.

In his article, Dr. Kanter tells of the frustration his mother experienced getting pain medication while hospitalized and how a confused call she made to 911 in the middle of the night prompted her formerly disorganized caregivers to work in a coordinated fashion. Although the situation he describes occurred in a hospital, many community pharmacists could offer their own stories of how better coordinated care processes would help produce better patient care experiences.

What do you think needs to happen before community pharmacists become an accepted part of an interdisciplinary virtual health care team? Does the solution rest with pharmacists, their employers, other health care professionals, technology such as EMR access, or all of the above? Should we just wait until things change or should we start now to make our own changes in how we deliver care in anticipation of future changes?

These are not easy questions to answer, but I suggest that you start thinking about them because change will come sooner rather than later. You will be better prepared to deal with those changes if you have at least thought about the answers to these important questions.