Collaborative Healthcare teams – Academic institutions must step up!

So the questions become, “How do we get to these integrated care teams?”    “What clinical team members do we need for our patient-centered medical homes?”       “Do we really need to have collaborative care teams at all?”

Through numerous conversations, health industry leaders have shared with me that it is almost cost prohibitive to retrain all of their current clinicians in these new integrated models.  Retail pharmacy leadership has shared the same about retraining all of their pharmacists in newer models of health delivery.  It has become abundantly clear to me that academic institutions must shoulder the task of training the next generation of health clinicians in these integrated healthcare models. The goal will be to create clinicians that are “team-based care ready” on day one, not after attending costly training sessions to acclimate them to interprofessional care models.  Efficiencies gained from well-trained healthcare team models will translate into financial savings for the entire health system.

Post-graduate residency programs in medicine and pharmacy have had a great deal of success in role-modeling integrated care models in acute-care inpatient environments.  I have a strong sense that this is lacking in broader community-based health arenas.  A recent IOM report supports this belief, and promotes reforming Graduate Medical Education funding to include expanded training in community settings.  In virtually every conversation I have with high-level health administrators, the gaps in community healthcare become more apparent; what lacks is a clear answer on how to improve healthcare in all communities.  The disparate nature of communities presents unique challenges, but also unveils enormous opportunities.  Inclusion of various healthcare professionals, especially in primary care, should become a goal of all health systems. A recent article by Kaiser Health News echoed this sentiment.  While this will mark a sharp shift by today’s healthcare standards, improved patient-centered care cannot be achieved in siloed territorial care.

This will be an enormous task for the various academies to achieve, especially since our various curricular structures generally have not been developed in ways that produce health clinicians capable of immediately achieving integrated health teams by the time they graduate. This is almost remarkable, given the length of time we spend training them!  There are national strategic initiatives promoting this very notion, with the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC ®) leading efforts for the various health academic associations to develop interprofessional curricular collaborations for student learners.  It is my strong belief that if we are to achieve improved healthcare outcomes, increased patient safety, all at lower costs, then it must begin with the academies achieving this interprofessional curricular goal.  Here at the USF College of Pharmacy, we understand this, and are working tirelessly toward this end.  Large amounts of health students emerging from the various disciplines will lead the way, but leadership is needed today if this is to become a reality in the near future.  Contemplative delays are not an option, this time to act is now!