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For Top ACO or Team Care, Check Physician Egos at the Door

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, March 24, 2011

If accountable care organizations are the next big thing in healthcare, their cousin has been around longer, and probably has more staying power: Multidiscipline approaches of care. But those approaches may only be successful if physicians can leave their egos behind.

Klaus Thaler, MD, a minimally invasive surgery specialist for Hudson Valley Hospital Center in Cortlandt Manor, NY, is a prime advocate of multidisciplinary care at his hospital.  He also serves as a team "captain" to help other physicians work together under the framework of multidisciplinary care.

Thaler, who has been at Hudson Valley for about a year and a half, is excited about the growing focus on multiple disciplinary teams; whether it's bringing "multidisciplinary surgical and non-surgical disciplines" together, as he puts it, or radiation therapists working with other specialists to improve patient outcomes.

Thaler's specialties are in digestive and minimally invasive surgery, and he joined Hudson Valley Hospital Center in July 2010 to create a "center of excellence" in those specialties. Previously, he served at the University of Missouri as director of gastro-intestinal surgery and co-chair of the robotic surgery programs.  He is working in an emerging field of natural orifice surgery, aimed at reducing scarring and pain, and speeding recovery.

In a recent conversation, Thaler discussed the multidisciplinary approaches positively, and smoothly. And then I asked him about the process of putting teams of physicians together. Despite all the talk about hospitals moving in the direction of multidisciplinary teams, in reality, the process is extremely difficult, Thaler says.

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1 comments on "For Top ACO or Team Care, Check Physician Egos at the Door"


pete.kelley (3/25/2011 at 10:45 AM)
As they say, "There is no 'I' in 'Team'." I like the concept. No one in charge and no individual accountability. In the current system, as the attending surgeon, I am considered the 'captain of the ship' and bear full liability for the patient's outcome. During the course of a patient's care, I have to deal with several anesthesiologists, CRA's, circulating nurses, scrub tech's, radiologists, pathologists, and an army of nurses and 'patient care techs' as the shift-workers come and go. I am the only constant in the patient's course of care. I will be happy to check my ego at the door if I can also leave my liability there.