Health, Safety, & Wellness: Improving Care through High-Performing Interprofessional Teams

By Dailey, Maureen; Dawson, Jaime Murphy | American Nurse Today, September 2014 | Go to article overview

Health, Safety, & Wellness: Improving Care through High-Performing Interprofessional Teams


Dailey, Maureen, Dawson, Jaime Murphy, American Nurse Today


IN AN ERA of healthcare reform, organizations are beginning to implement interprofessional team-based care as a strategy to deliver high-quality care more effectively and efficiently. In 2011, the Interprofessional Education Collaborative Expert Panel defined interprofessional teambased care as "care delivered by intentionally created, usually relatively small work groups in health care, who are recognized by others as well as by themselves as having a collective identity and shared responsibility for a patient or group of patients." Furthermore, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) identified team-based care as "a highly effective care delivery model that promotes safe, effective, and efficient health care." And in 2012, the Institute of Medicine called interprofessional team-based care critical to supporting a Learning Health System and improved outcomes.

Evidence-based models of interprofessional education and patient care

Interprofessional initiatives have demonstrated improved care delivery outcomes. For instance, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funded five Centers of Excellence in Primary Care Education with the goal of creating interprofessional and team-based educational and patient-centered delivery models. Teams include nurse practitioner students, physician residents, pharmacy residents, and psychology interns and fellows. The centers employ four core curricular domains in their training program: shared decision-making, sustained relationships, interprofessional collaboration, and performance improvement. Early results are promising. The VA Connecticut Healthcare System center, for example, reported a doubling of productivity in patient care and improved access for patients after just 1 year.

Interprofessional education has the potential to break down silos and change the current discipline-centric educational paradigm of healthcare professionals. One program at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine and Nursing, supported by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, involves a 2-week combined orientation course for all students. The course focuses on team building, communication, and healthcare systems. Evaluations of interprofessional educational initiatives have demonstrated improved communications and teamwork skills. …

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