Well-coordinated cooperation within healthcare professionals will provide patients comprehensive, population-based and cost-effective service and care as well as new emphasis on health promotion and disease deterrence, which are the challenges that “assault” the practice.
Interdisciplinary healthcare is very important be it in serving the health needs of a patient in a family-oriented healthcare facility, a patient in an ambulatory setting or a patient in acute care. The differences arise in the degree of seriousness that the respective patients are suffering. Collaboration in serving families may not be as strong as the collaboration obtained when the situation at hand is about acute care patients. The latter is of more serious case since the period of stay in a healthcare facility means the period where severe occurrence of the illness is happening. Collaboration is more demanded in an acute care than in ambulatory or family care setting because at this stage, medical professionals cannot afford to commit mistakes, even at its slightest.
Since an interdisciplinary collaboration is consist of various practitioners from various area in the profession conflicts may arise. Although all of them share common population and goals for their patients, disagreements may still occur due to factors that are both controllable and not. According to Westberg and Jason (1993) the joint efforts of the professional team- members may result to insights and answers to problems that are rarely achievable by a single health professional. This aspect of collaboration is good but this is where conflicts arise as well. With “different insights and expertise” opinions may differ, which, sadly, is inevitable. These are the barriers to better collaboration. These barriers, according to Grant, et al (2005) on the good side can promote innovation and creativity in solving the problems at hand. If healthcare professionals in the team overcome and resolve these barriers, greater understanding and confidence is achieved in the team. On the bad side, unsuccessful resolution of these can cause anger, burn-out, aloofness, retreat and low morales among each member. Suggested actions in preventing these damaging conflicts and barriers include the following:
1. Setting of standards in accomplishing tasks and identifying rules for the behaviors of the team
2. “Keeping an open door” for silent team members and encouraging them to make their respective contributions as well
3. Seeking harmony in times of conflict occurrence by attentively listening to each others’ opinions, doing brainstorming for ways to resolve the problem and go back to the basic purpose of the team: patients’ well-being and not personal interests
4. Seek for the consensus of the group to come up with best conclusion on what to do
5. Encouraging feedbacks from each other, both favorable and unfavorable
6. Reviewing and assessing the development of the tasks and the results of the decisions
Overall, interdisciplinary healthcare is good for patients of varying health problems. If the task is properly undertaken, both the healthcare professionals, the healthcare institution and most of all the patients can reap the good benefits of this system.
Grant RW, Finocchio LJ, California Primary Care Consortium Subcommittee on Interdisciplinary Collaboration. Interdisciplinary collaborative teams in primary care: a model curriculum and resource guide. San Francisco, California: Pew Health Professions Commission, 1995.
Westberg J, Jason H. Collaborative clinical education: the foundation of effective health care. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1993.