Primary care teams with health professionals from various disciplines may play a key role in improving the quality of patient care.
Each team member is able to put forward specialized ideas and recommendations relevant to their area of expertise, contributing to an improved patient experience of primary health care and better health outcomes for the public.
Health Professionals in the Multidisciplinary Primary Care Team
There are various health professionals that may be part of the multidisciplinary primary care team. These may include:
- General practitioners
- Occupational therapists
Aging Population and Increased Demand for Multidisciplinary Care Teams
The population in most developed countries - such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia - is aging.
In Australia, for example, the proportion of people over the age of 65 is expected to increase to more than one-quarter of the population by 2051.
Additionally, very old people over the age of 85 are expected to make up for more than 5% of the population.
However, this increase in life expectancy is likely to be associated with an increased time spent with a mild or moderate disability.
These changes in the age and disability of the population are expected to put a greater demand on the primary health system.
In turn, this will intensify the need for a cohesive system with the integration of a multidisciplinary care team for individuals to reduce the demands on the secondary and tertiary sectors.
Benefits of Multidisciplinary Care
There are many tangible benefits of a multidisciplinary care team for patient outcomes.
Firstly, the team allows for a broader range of clinical perspectives and an overall enriched knowledge base to utilize.
Each team member has a specialized skill set and field of expert knowledge, which they can offer to the group.
As a result, much clearer picture of each patient case and the best management options are more likely to be brought forward.
This allows patients to benefit from the skill set of each health professional, leading to a better experience of care.
However, this approach requires a considerable level of communication among the healthcare professionals in order to provide a cohesive patient experience.
It is essential that each team member is able to communicate effectively with the other members and that they support each other throughout the process.
Effective Team Functioning and Patient Outcomes
In order for multidisciplinary primary care teams to function effectively, thus improving patient outcomes, a number of factors should be considered and addressed.
Firstly, it is essential for the role of each member of the team to be clearly defined with the responsibilities of patient care to be distributed in the most beneficial way. This should aim to maximize the strengths of each team member.
Additionally, seamless systems of communication should be used to ensure that all members of the team have access to the most relevant and up-to-date information about patients at all times.
Cloud-based technology and information sharing are making this possible, even between health professions with practices at different locations.
Integrating multidisciplinary teams into the current primary care practice setting requires a significant change in the way professionals interact, the alignment of their roles and organization methods.
These changes will take some time to come to fruition, with several challenges to be successfully tackled.