With the growing complexity of healthcare system,
interprofessional collaboration in healthcare has become increasingly
important. Interprofessional collaboration is the practice of working,
communicating and sharing responsibilities among healthcare professions for the
benefit of patients and professions.
workshops and clinical placements, I was exposed to an interprofessional
collaborative environment. During a MDT, I saw
surgeons create treatment plans by assessing preoperatively the patient fitness
for surgery and perform surgery while postoperative management and
rehabilitation involve other professions.
Formerly, doctor was known as the
major decision maker. However, nowadays through interprofessional
collaboration, healthcare members from different disciplines such as
physiotherapy, dietetics, pharmacy, nursing, medicine, speech and language
therapy and occupational therapy are involved in patient care. Each can liaise
with different profession, discuss patient case and treatments from a different
perspective to improve patients’ outcome and reduce burden on healthcare
collaboration could create a more comprehensive care plan for patients by
increasing coordination of healthcare services, especially for long-term chronic
disease management. This could be achieved through effective communication which
develop mutual trust and respect among each other. Problems such as
misdiagnosis and miscommunication could be solved, leading to more productive
treatment for patients and less workload for professions.
Working individually will produce
ineffective patient treatment and increase burden of professions. By reviewing patients’
charts solely, doctors might easily miss symptoms and misdiagnose. However, teamwork
and support can reduce pressure and enhance patient outcome.
The most common barrier of
interprofessional collaboration is the lack of understanding of role,
responsibilities, knowledge and skill of each other profession. This causes
lack of confidence and trust in each other’s opinion which reduces clinical
effectiveness and patient safety. Each profession from diverse backgrounds with
clashing perceptions and reluctance to accept others’ views could cause conflicts.
Another hurdle is the unequal number of each profession and the team not
composed of appropriate professionals.
Ineffective communication causes
lack of commitment and insufficient decision-making. This could be seen through
medical errors such as misunderstanding of information, inaccurate and lack of
clarity of medication which increases risk of patient safety. Another problem
is the difficulty to arrange schedule of different profession for meeting which
might be time-consuming.
To improve interprofessional
collaboration, miscommunication and negative biases should be avoided by developing
trust, respect and understanding of each other’s role and skills. Patient
documentation should be clear and organised without abbreviations. To reduce
conflicts, one of the team members should be appointed as the chair who is
capable of predicting the outcome of treatments, make appropriate adjustments
and final decision. No patient-related decision should be made without
collaborative approval of all. For MDT meetings, the length of time could be
reduced and involve at least one member from each profession.
Conclusively, the ultimate goal
of interprofessional collaboration is to provide a comprehensive healthcare service.
This could be achieved by promoting interprofessional learning earlier among
healthcare students, causing them to be aware of the importance of teamwork and
communication across disciplines and practise this collaboration in future