Healthcare provider specialization has the potential to enhance patient care, but the continuity of treatment from doctor to doctor often can feel fractured. It’s not unusual for patients to see a primary care physician, specialists (e.g., cardiologists, nephrologists, psychiatrists, etc.), and numerous nurses and other healthcare professionals, such as physical therapists and pharmacists. While this division of labor can help ensure patients receive expert-level care at every step, it can also cause problems.
If all of the healthcare professionals involved in treating a patient aren’t working together as a team, confusion and miscommunication can negatively affect that patient’s health outcomes. That’s where interprofessional collaboration (IPC) comes in.
What Is Interprofessional Collaboration?
Healthcare IPC is teamwork for the benefit of patients. The World Health Organization defines it as “multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds work[ing] together with patients, families, carers (caregivers), and communities to deliver the highest quality of care.”1
Who’s Involved in IPC?
Anyone involved in healthcare can also be involved in IPC. This includes doctors, nurses, clinic and hospital staff, social workers, public health professionals, and all others involved in the health of individuals and/or communities.
However, IPC is not the norm. Many of those involved in healthcare focus on their specific area and rarely, if ever, collaborate with healthcare professionals in other areas. Even when it comes to the treatment of individuals, a patient’s medical “team” does not always work as a team. Many experts believe that we need to improve collaboration to improve healthcare.
What Are the Benefits of IPC?
IPC can improve multiple aspects of healthcare, including:
Quality of Care: IPC can improve care in several ways. When healthcare professionals work as a team they have better communication, and good communication is key to both quality of care and safety.2 There’s a much lower risk that miscommunication or a lack of communication will lead to errors when healthcare providers are working in concert.
The coordination inherent in IPC can also improve healthcare outcomes. When each healthcare professional involved in a patient’s care is aware of the role and decisions of the other healthcare professionals involved, all members of the team can fulfill their responsibilities in ways that complement the efforts of one another. Further, studies show that this coordination has real, measurable benefits. For example, the coordination of care resulting from IPC can reduce the risk of hospital readmission by 19%.2
- Patient Satisfaction: When healthcare professionals don’t work as a team, the wishes of the patient can easily be forgotten or ignored. But with IPC, the patient—not the disease—is paramount. That’s because the nature of IPC encourages patient-centric care, with healthcare professionals coming together to understand the patient and his/her healthcare issues on a holistic level. A cardiologist on an IPC team isn’t just concerned with the patient’s heart. Instead, the cardiologist is concerned with how the patient’s heart fits into the patient’s greater health and well-being. And patients who feel they’re being treated as full human beings tend to be much more satisfied with their care.
- Cost: IPC, when done right, can reduce redundancy and improve efficiency. In addition, it can minimize the risk of costly errors.
How Can You Help Improve Healthcare?
If you’re a nurse, you may encounter opportunities to work in an IPC environment. But participating in IPC is only one way you can help improve the health of your patients. You can also choose to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) degree.
As nursing becomes more complex and demanding, more and more nurses are returning to nursing school to earn their bachelor’s degree. Through a RN-BSN nursing program, you can elevate your nursing skills and put yourself in position to advance your nursing career. Thanks to online learning, you can earn your nursing degree while continuing to work full time.
How does online education make it possible for you to keep working? In the case of online nursing programs, it’s all about convenience and flexibility. If you’ve already completed an RN program, you can qualify for an online BSN program designed to take you directly from your RN to BSN. RN-to-BSN online programs build on your existing knowledge and can make earning your bachelor’s more convenient and affordable.
In addition to being designed specifically for your needs, online RN-to-BSN programs let you complete most of your coursework from home and on a flexible schedule that allows you to decide what time of day you attend class. In short, an online nursing degree can give you the freedom to schedule your learning around your shifts, making it possible to be a nursing student and a working nurse simultaneously.
There’s plenty of room to improve our healthcare system. When you take advantage of an online nursing school and earn your BSN, you can become more prepared to help make healthcare better.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) Completion Program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.