The field of medical care giving involves a series of collaborations, which must function smoothly, and on a regular basis, in order to make things work well. Establishing these is ultra important, and key when planning a successful medical practice, aimed at giving quality care.
I recently gave a talk about the topic of collaboration, as the Director of Quality for my medical group, in front of an audience made up of both men and women at the Rockland Women’s Network Collaboration. I divided the types of collaborative efforts in my field into three categories:
Three Types of Collaborations:
The first example comes as no surprise. An office couldn’t function properly if it wasn’t for its individual team members. The patient’s day starts out with her interaction with the front desk staff, who appropriately handles paperwork and insurance issues. The visit then continues with a medical assistant, who listens intently, asks the right questions, and obtains the vitals. Once the doctor completes the visit, a nurse typically administers needed vaccines, or closes up the visit with an explanation of anything that wasn’t clear, and then checkout follows, once again with the friendly receptionist. There is also an office manager, who works to keep the team together, and on the right track. She is the glue. Together, when the team works well, it makes for a great collaboration.
This collaboration is also so important, because, while primary care doctors serve as the gateway for an individual, they often need the help of their invaluable colleagues- the specialists- to get to the bottom of complaints. That’s where consultations come in. Great teamwork here involves open communication lines and continual dialogue until the patient issue is resolved, but can also be ongoing for years. It’s a given that this collaboration has been established, and that it’s based on mutual trust, evident when patients ask us primaries for our recommendation on which specialist they should see.
This one is the one that matters most. It’s the building block of the relationship established between doctor and patient. Each side must put in their own efforts to make the interaction work. The doctor serves to guide, advise, and support the patient, who in turn takes the plan that’s formed into action. We must make a solid team, the patient and I, in order to make this work. A talk I gave recently on the topic of collaboration in medicine highlighted an interaction I had with a patient over lipstick that I appropriately titled Collaboration Over Lipstick.