Our traditional healthcare system has existed as a “silo-system” where all healthcare providers, from physicians to pharmacists, worked exclusively within their own department, or silo. This paradigm has fostered poor communication and inefficiencies throughout our healthcare system. Each silo of care was encouraged to ask patients redundant questions and needlessly repeat expensive tests, sowing the seeds of animosity between different healthcare fields. Ultimately, these poor communication methods culminate in poor healthcare outcomes that cost patients more. Recently, I had the privilege of participating in a grant that focused on improving patient outcomes through interprofessional communication, tearing down these silos to create a seamless continuum of care.
The goal of the grant was to show how patient outcomes are improved when different healthcare specialties act as a team to work together. This was accomplished by getting different students, working in their respective fields of patient centered care, to sit down and work together at improving our communication methods with each other and our patients. Students were drawn from specialties such as nurse practitioners, dentistry, social work, and pharmacy and were brought together under one roof to work on communication at every level of care. Historically these specialties have never worked together, which I think is a disservice to our patients.
Over the course of my time working on the grant, we met several times with students I would have never had the chance to meet otherwise. Prior to working with these other professional students, I can clearly state that I had no appreciation of the impact their professions have on patients. By working together, I was able to learn how interdisciplinary communication provides us an opportunity to improve the value of our nation’s healthcare. I was able to quickly and succinctly answer drug questions fielded from patients and clinicians, saving time, while ensuring that the information was pertinent and accurate. Not only did the other professional students appreciate having a medication specialist available to them, but also more importantly, so did the patient.
Before participating in the grant, I was unsure of how much I could help improve outcomes by working directly with clinicians and patients. But after sitting in the room with other professionals, answering questions and having my own questions answered, I quickly knew how powerful this opportunity was to the healthcare team, as well as to our patients. After my experience with the grant I hope that this level of interdisciplinary communication will spread throughout the healthcare system. And while the grant is still ongoing, and the jury is still out evaluating the impact of interdisciplinary communication, I am convinced that it will be a massive success.
Matt Crowley, PharmD Candidate 2014
UMKC School of Pharmacy
MPA Rotation Student, April 2014