The patient is the central figure in medicine. His interests, the right to receive qualitative and well-timed health care, full and complete examination and competent treatment are vital issues in medical practice. However, medicine is not the work and responsibility of one medical representative; it is harmonious and efficient interaction within the team of professionals. Collaboration among healthcare disciplines is necessary to achieve better patient outcomes.
Maxson et al. (2011) argued that interdisciplinary collaboration in medicine is aimed to meet complicated challenges in patient care by providing cost-effective and high quality medical care with the focus on disease prevention. Collaboration among healthcare disciplines involves three essential issues such as coordination of activities and efforts, shared responsibility and communication. Communication is one the most vital process that determines the success and effectiveness of interdisciplinary collaboration in medicine. Poor communication among the medical professionals leads to misunderstanding, incorrect interpretation of the problem and results in wrong decision- making, reflected in the quality of medical services obtained by patients. Moreover, the authors stated that sufficient collaboration between nurses and physicians led to decrease in mortality and morbidity rates due to improved communication and avoiding unnecessary errors; cost of care was reduced. Patients also felt that the decisions on their treatment and the procedures taken were balanced and more reasonable.
According to Zwarenstein, Goldman and Reeves (2009) “poor interprofessional collaboration can negatively affect the delivery of health services and patient care”. The authors underline that addressing such issues as power dynamics, poor communication, wrong perception of the roles and responsibilities taken in the medical team, solving conflicts arising due to misunderstanding of different medical practice approaches and methods, could improve the quality of services and level of patients’ satisfaction. Collaboration of various healthcare disciplines should be a “negotiated agreement between professionals, which values the expertise and contributions that various healthcare professionals bring to patient care”.
Orchard, Curran and Kabene (2005) stated that with the aim to achieve a better patient outcomes interdisciplinary collaboration should be a partnership between a patient and health professionals in a “participatory, collaborative and coordinated approach to shared decision-making around health issues”. The biggest advantages for the patients assured by the improved health care system based on interdisciplinary collaboration are better service coordination in the complex problems decision, more efficient time usage, their involvement in understanding of the coherent and integrated examination and treatment, and becoming more active members and partners in health care. At the same time, with the increase in effectiveness of health care services the professional satisfaction of the medical representatives grows. They obtain new knowledge, familiarize with new approaches in providing medical services due to improved interpersonal communication, and try innovative methods that facilitate the speed and quality of decision-making for the good of the patient. Moreover, the focus in medical services shifts from the episodic intervention in the long-term health care that focuses on prevention of disease.
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Maxson et al. (2011) underlined that appropriate training session must be conducted to improve the collaboration between medical professional representing different disciplines. They consider team-training exercises to be an effective tool in improving performance indicators especially in a crisis. After the finish of training course, over time the participants confirmed significant improvements in the patient care decision-making process. A secondary effect that also improved the quality of patient care providing was a better understanding of the working challenges that the nurse and physician faced in the daily practice and thus appearance of the strong motivation to improve the interpersonal communication due to appropriate understanding of each other’s responsibilities and roles in the professional relationships. Zwarenstein, Goldman and Reeves (2009) also stated that interprofessional meetings and rounds, similarly to externally facilitated interprofessional audit have a positive impact on the patients outcomes such as mortality, length of stay, total charges, patients’ satisfaction.
Lingard, Espin, Evans and Hawryluck (2004) put an emphasis on the collaboration among healthcare disciplines in the intensive care as one of the most critical area in terms of decision-making and the need for clear coordination of actions. The authors emphasized that interspecialty and interdisciplinary tensions are the common problems in the daily medical routine operations and that such a situation “threatens the delivery of quality health care in a hospital setting”. Therefore, to improve the collaboration between the representative of different healthcare disciplines and consequently to guarantee the most efficient service for the patient such six catalysts, as “authority, education, patient needs, knowledge, resources, and time” should be taken into account. Individual needs of each medical representative should be balanced with the team goals for the benefit of the patient. The authors underlined that the common perception of the team was expanded in the field of medicine by the concept that a medical team included “distinct professional identities based on different models of care, skills, economic circumstances, and political agendas” (Lingard, Espin, Evans & Hawryluck, 2004). Only the notion of superiority of patients’ interests and effective collaboration, congruence, communication and equity could force such team to work towards the established goal.
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Collaboration among healthcare disciplines is a necessary tool for improving a quality of health care provided and patient’s safety protection. Misunderstanding of the challenges faced by different medical representatives, poor communication, and interdisciplinary tensions caused the worsening of the patient care efficiency. Therefore, such barriers for cost- and time-efficient, high quality healthcare should be eliminated through improvement in activities coordination, share of responsibilities, a better interpersonal communication and practical interventions in the form of numerous practical trainings, rounds and seminars.
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