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Hard-Nosed About Physician Teamwork

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   May 16, 2013

A Michigan healthcare system tells physicians: Be part of a multidisciplinary team or go away. Though many physicians are not collaborative by nature, a team-based approach is the only way to ensure success, says Spectrum Health.

For physicians at Spectrum Health System in Grand Rapids, MI, the multidisciplinary concept is taken seriously. The cardiology team is blunt when it evaluates doctors who are part of the group: you must be totally immersed in the team concept, or you will be asked to leave the group. Sorry.

Within Spectrum's cardiothoracic critical care unit at the Frederik Meijer Heart & Vascular Institute, for instance, the group has "tried to create an atmosphere that selfish behavior is not tolerated," says Michael Dickinson, MD, medical director of the heart failure and transplantation center for Spectrum Health. "We would say only certain physicians are allowed to be 'citizens' of the unit."

The multidisciplinary concept in healthcare is touted, encouraged, and practiced, to improve patient care in a coordinated approach. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), for instance, encourages the multidisciplinary rounding concept, which it describes simply as "several key members of the team caring for patients to come together and offer expertise in patient care."

But as the IHI reported in 2011, "too frequently physicians alone prescribe care for patients" without the input of other providers such as nurses, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, nutritionists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and social workers.

Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.

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