Healthcare service delivery involves the contribution of different professionals and highly trained individuals. Our body has different parts that must all be properly managed for optimum health and development. 

Interdisciplinary team development allows healthcare teams consisting of several healthcare professionals with unique needs to grow and offer the best possible care to patients of different demographic groups. 

Interdisciplinary team development is a critical component of healthcare delivery, as it enables healthcare professionals from different fields to work together to provide comprehensive and patient-centered care. By combining their expertise and working towards common goals, interdisciplinary teams can achieve better outcomes for patients, improve the quality of care, and enhance the overall healthcare experience for patients and their families. 

Interdisciplinary team development is a vital strategy for achieving optimal healthcare outcomes and addressing the complex needs of patients in today’s healthcare landscape. In this blog post, we will explore what this looks like in practice and how healthcare teams can deliver it.

What is interdisciplinary team development in healthcare?

Interdisciplinary team development is a dynamic process involving two or more health professionals with complementary or diverse backgrounds and skills working together to achieve a common health goal, improve patient outcomes and develop the healthcare system in general.  

Their work as health professionals involves assessing patients, planning treatments, and evaluating them. This is accomplished using different strategies, including effective collaboration, communication, and shared decision-making, in a bid to improve patient outcomes.

Interdisciplinary team development in healthcare creates better outcomes on three different levels vis the patient, the healthcare professional, and the institution they both pass through. The result of this can include a well-motivated workforce, improved quality of care, reduced cost of health care, retention of patients, and help improve the growth of the health organization in general.

Interdisciplinary teams have a clearly identifiable shared purpose, are aware of their dependence on one another, and work together to achieve this shared purpose.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

The importance of interdisciplinary team development

Interdisciplinary teamwork is becoming the go-to approach to care for many health professionals for the following reasons:

  • Complex needs of patients

There is an increasing population of patients with diverse and complex needs associated with complex medical conditions. In addition, external factors such as climate change, food crisis, etc., have profound effects on the health of the population, which has created a need to make healthcare more comprehensive. 

  • Increased specialization

Health professionals today are becoming much more specialized in their practice. Professionals are carving out highly niched areas to focus on in their careers. What this means is that no one professional can provide the comprehensive and detailed care that patients need to manage their health conditions. Hence the need to collaborate with others. 

  • A shift in behavior

Patients and their relatives are more open to allowing health professionals of varying specializations and expertise to manage their care. In the past, patients were much more focused on the one professional they have a connection with and have built a rapport with. A shift in this behavior has created an opportunity for better collaboration in healthcare practice. 

  • Patient-centered care 

The emphasis on putting the patient’s needs first in healthcare practice has made collaboration very important. The patient now actively participates in their own care, and most patients would rather have a team of professionals helping them navigate a health issue. Also, the leaning towards continuous quality improvement in healthcare makes collaborating important. 

  • Improved patient outcomes

Interdisciplinary teams can provide comprehensive care that addresses all aspects of a patient’s health, leading to improved outcomes. The mortality rate is lower, and patients can leave the clinical setting knowing they have received the best care possible. 

  • Enhanced communication and collaboration

By building an interdisciplinary team, health professionals can improve communication and collaboration, leading to better care coordination.

  • Increased job satisfaction

Working in an interdisciplinary team can be rewarding and increase job satisfaction among healthcare professionals. It allows health professionals to develop a sense of value regardless of their area of specialization or role in patient care.

  • Cost-effective care

By pooling resources and expertise, interdisciplinary teams can provide cost-effective care that maximizes resources and minimizes waste.

It should be noted that interdisciplinary teams have unique challenges that must be overcome to enjoy the benefits of the approach. These challenges include the contentious nature of sharing professional roles and expertise, planning, and decision-making while delivering quality patient care within complex contexts.

What does interdisciplinary team development look like?

Interdisciplinary team development in healthcare refers to the process of building and strengthening collaborative relationships between healthcare professionals from different disciplines to provide optimal patient care. Here are some key components of interdisciplinary team development in healthcare:

  • Identifying the team

The first step is to identify the professionals who will be part of the interdisciplinary team. This can vary depending on the patient’s needs and the type of healthcare setting. In large organizations, there can be a team of tens of professionals working on the same cases. 

  • Defined roles and responsibilities

Each team member has a clearly defined role and responsibility. This is to avoid confusion and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal. Depending on what the unique skills and knowledge of the professional are, they know what their contribution should be. 

  • Established communication protocols 

Collaboration cannot occur without communication. Developing an interdisciplinary team also means establishing communication protocols to ensure that everyone is informed and up to date on the patient’s care.

  • Regular meetings

Interdisciplinary teams meet regularly during the period of care to update one another. Regular meetings are essential for interdisciplinary teams to discuss patient care and make decisions. These meetings should be scheduled at regular intervals and should include all team members.

  • Ongoing education

Healthcare is a constantly evolving field, and ongoing education is essential for interdisciplinary teams to stay up to date on the latest treatments and interventions. Every professional is aware of how to stay established and upgrade themselves as members of an interdisciplinary team. For example, for nurses, there are many online nurse educator programs they can undergo to make themselves valuable members of a team. Accredited institutions like Walsh University often offer flexible courses that can be taken online so that working professionals can balance their work and study.

Principles of interdisciplinary team development in healthcare

Interdisciplinary team development is essential in healthcare, as it allows professionals from different disciplines to collaborate and provide the best possible care for patients. Effective interdisciplinary teams require health professionals to have principles that guide their development and function. Here are some key principles of interdisciplinary team development in healthcare:

  • Clear communication

Effective communication is the foundation of interdisciplinary team development. Without proper communication, the whole essence of an interdisciplinary team is defeated. The team should establish clear communication protocols that outline how information is shared, who is responsible for communicating with whom, and how frequently communication should occur. Communication should be ongoing and collaborative, and each team member should feel comfortable asking questions, seeking clarification, and offering feedback.

  • Mutual respect

Interdisciplinary team development requires mutual respect between team members. No team member should consider themselves more valuable than others. Each team member should value and acknowledge the contributions of their colleagues and understand that everyone’s perspective is valuable. This fosters a culture of trust and collaboration, which leads to better decision-making and more effective patient care.

  • Shared goals

Interdisciplinary team development requires shared goals that align with the patient’s needs and goals. Team members must work together to establish a plan of care that addresses all aspects of the patient’s health, including their physical, emotional, social, and cultural needs. The team should set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound to ensure everyone is working towards the same outcome at every point.

  • Clear roles and responsibilities

Each team member should have a clearly defined role and responsibility. This helps avoid confusion and overlaps and ensures that everyone is working towards the same goal. Each team member should be aware of their responsibilities, as well as the roles and responsibilities of their colleagues. This creates a sense of accountability, which leads to more effective patient care.

  • Continuous learning

Interdisciplinary team development requires continuous learning. No man is an island of knowledge, and it is essential that team members stay up to date on the latest treatments and interventions. The team should also engage in ongoing education and training by seeking out their colleague’s opinions, even in areas where they are considered experts.

  • Collaborative decision-making

Interdisciplinary team development requires collaborative decision-making. Each team member brings a unique set of skills and expertise to the table, and decisions should be made together to leverage every team member’s strengths. Collaborative decision-making also ensures that everyone is informed and has a say in the patient’s care plan.

  • Focus on the patient

The patient should be at the center of interdisciplinary team development. All decisions and actions should be made with the patient’s needs and goals in mind. The team should work together to provide patient-centered care that is personalized, comprehensive, and effective.

Conclusion

Interdisciplinary team development in healthcare is essential for providing comprehensive, coordinated care to patients. By bringing together professionals from different disciplines, interdisciplinary teams can provide the best possible care for their patients, improve themselves as professionals and build stronger health institutions.