What are the challenges and benefits of inter professional collaboration in healthcare teams?

What are the challenges and benefits of inter professional collaboration in healthcare teams?

Healthcare is a sector that is hugely important in our daily lives, as it helps care for the sick and injured in society. It is also one of the most important sectors in terms of employment, providing jobs to millions of workers in the country. The popularity of healthcare careers is not a surprise when you think of how rewarding they are on a personal level and how they enable you to make a positive difference in the world.

The sheer range of roles within the industry is also a major draw for job seekers, and there are many different types of healthcare professionals involved with patient care. Although they all have their own daily remit, it is now common to see these professionals collaborate as part of a wider healthcare team.

What is interprofessional collaboration within healthcare teams? 

Interprofessional collaboration within healthcare teams refers to multiple healthcare professionals from different specialisms or departments working together as one unit to deliver patient care. Healthcare teamwork can also involve multiple healthcare professionals working as one to support the families of patients, carers and communities.

This ability to work together as one team when delivering care enables healthcare professionals to not only share key information more easily but also discuss any critical issues relating to patient care. This approach allows healthcare teams to get a range of opinions and various perspectives on how a patient should be treated.

How can you learn more about interprofessional collaboration in healthcare teams?

For anyone who plans to work in the healthcare sector, being able to work as part of a happy, effective team is vital. The best way to develop the skills and techniques needed to do this is through education. By studying for the qualifications required to work in this sector, you’ll be able to pick up expert knowledge on interprofessional teamwork as you go.

For example, if you plan to become a nurse, it’s important to get the right education. You’ll typically first need to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing in order to become a registered nurse, and any reputable degree program of this type will develop your ability to work as part of healthcare teams. Continuing education for nurses is the next step and equally as crucial for refining your knowledge of interprofessional collaboration.

For nurses who want to go that extra mile and dive into research, PhD programs are the way to go. The Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing from Wilkes University is one of the online PhD programs nursing professionals can consider. With 100% online coursework and affordable tuition rates, it is the perfect way to advance your career while you continue working.

How does interprofessional collaboration in healthcare teams work? 

A good example of interprofessional teamwork functioning in the real world is a healthcare team meeting to review the treatment plan for a patient who has broken their leg. During the team meeting, a physician would be present to provide their opinion on how the patient should be treated, while the lead nurse looking after the patient would share key details of their current health and mood.

A pharmacist may also be present on the team to advise on any medication issues or questions. If the broken leg needs physiotherapy to heal properly, a healthcare team like this may also include a physiotherapist to provide their expert opinion. If the patient is showing recent signs of depression from their injury or recovery, a mental health practitioner may also be a key part of the team.

What benefits does interprofessional collaboration offer? 

Interprofessional collaboration in healthcare teams occurs in every hospital and clinic across the country every day, which shows the immense benefits it offers. Some of these include the following.

Better quality patient care and patient outcomes 

This is perhaps the major benefit that interprofessional collaboration in healthcare teams delivers. In simple terms, it enables the healthcare sector to offer improved patient outcomes and a much better level of care. It is certainly a more effective way of treating patients than one person trying to decide on the best course of treatment from their own specific viewpoint.

By working together as one unit to treat the patient, professionals within healthcare teams are able to share key data and discuss ideas on the best treatment options available. This can result in solutions that may not have otherwise occurred if it were only one person looking at the case from a single perspective.

Taking a collaborative approach also means that people from a range of health specialisms are present to provide expert insight into their niche. For example, if a suggestion is made around administering a new medication to a patient, it is essential to get a pharmacist’s opinion on whether that is wise. The same is true if the patient’s condition may be due to their genes – an expert on genomics in health should be present to drive that conversation forward.

Reduction of medical errors 

Although qualified healthcare workers do their best to keep errors to a minimum, they unfortunately still occur, especially when multiple professionals are involved in an individual patient’s care and lines of communication sometimes get blurred.

This is disastrous for patients and the reputation of the healthcare sector. Reducing the number of medical errors is therefore a priority, and collaborations within healthcare teams can help with this. When more people from different healthcare backgrounds are involved in team discussions around patient care, potential mistakes are more easily spotted and more questions are asked before a certain action is agreed upon.

More positive working environment for healthcare staff

There is no doubt that many of the benefits offered by interprofessional teamwork centers on patient care. However, this is not the only reason it is such a positive force in the sector.

Adopting an approach where healthcare professionals collaborate in teams can actually make for a much happier working environment. This is naturally much better for staff in the industry and makes it a more positive place to work. Ultimately, developing strong professional relationships will help foster excellent team spirit.

In addition, interprofessional teamwork often brings together people who do not normally cross paths at work in their daily roles. Bringing together people from across the various health specialties allows these professionals to build up a larger network of colleagues and bonds everyone into one big team. Working in this way also makes sure that those who are involved with patient care feel valued and included.

Faster treatment times 

Without taking an interprofessional team approach to treating patients, healthcare could turn into a slow-moving waiting game where nurses have to wait for a physician to sign a relevant form to discharge a patient, while physicians may be waiting for lab results to come back from radiology before they are able to do so.

This is not only frustrating for patients but can also be an inefficient way of working. The above example may well see physicians having to constantly chase up results they are waiting for and nurses having to constantly follow up with the physician to see what is happening.

One way to avoid this kind of situation and speed up treatment times is through healthcare professionals working within teams. This means all the relevant people involved in a patient’s treatment are connected, which cuts down on any delays in patient care. This is a much more efficient way of working and also makes for a less frustrating patient experience.

Lower healthcare costs for hospitals and clinics 

Because the interprofessional team approach is a more efficient way of working, this also means that hospitals and clinics benefit from reduced operating costs.

For example, healthcare facilities can avoid delays to surgical procedures and cut down on the number of surgical hours they would need to pay out to surgeons. If working as a team helps to avert a potentially fatal blunder around a patient’s medication plan, then this approach can also reduce costs associated with medical errors.

What challenges are there to interprofessional collaboration in healthcare teams? 

The benefits of teamwork in a healthcare setting are obvious, as it helps deliver top-class patient care. However, this streamlined collaboration is not something that happens by accident and must be approached in the right way in order to reap the rewards.

This is not always as easy as it sounds, and there are some tricky challenges to overcome, including the following.

Poor communication 

As in the wider business world, poor communication can be a serious obstacle when it comes to healthcare teams working smoothly. This can lead to miscommunication or breaks in communication, which can undermine how successfully the team in question may operate.

This is a real issue because interprofessional teams cannot function and offer the best care with substandard communication between members. It will instead lead to a lack of harmony between the team, which can negatively impact any collaborative effort.

In addition, poor communication may result in team members failing to explain their point of view properly or pass on key information effectively. If this happens, mistakes can be made in patient treatments plans, or team members may fail to grasp what another is trying to tell them, potentially leading to poor patient outcomes.

Poor personal relations between team members 

The simple fact is that any team that includes people who dislike each other is going to struggle. Interprofessional healthcare teams are no exception, and this makes poor personal relations between team members a real danger.

This type of conflict can lead to a bad atmosphere in the team, which hinders open discussion and stops people from wanting to participate in the collaboration. It may also discourage other team members from being present at any meetings and lead to a knowledge gap.

Poor relations between team members can also lead to constant arguments, which can have a detrimental impact on patient care. If any discussion time is taken up by two members arguing with each other, then it is hard to actually talk about the patient and what is best for them.

Power struggles and respect 

Interprofessional collaboration within healthcare teams naturally sees a wide range of people involved from different healthcare roles. While this makes sense from a treatment perspective, it can still lead to personnel challenges. As different roles come with different statuses, there can sometimes be an issue with mutual professional respect between team members.

For example, a nurse may feel that a physician who considers themselves higher status does not listen to their input on patient care. This can lead to the nurse feeling that a level of disrespect is being shown to their points by someone on the team who classes themselves as more senior.

As a result, a level of friction builds up in the team and leads to it not functioning as smoothly as it should. Instances like this may also see people keeping to their opinions to themselves in team discussions, as they do not see the point in sharing them. This would be detrimental for patient care and overall patient outcomes.

Interprofessional collaboration in healthcare teams is crucial

Although there may be some common challenges to overcome with interprofessional teamwork in healthcare, the numerous benefits it delivers makes it worthwhile. Whether it is improving patient care or reducing medical errors, healthcare professionals from different niches working as one team is the most effective approach to take.