Naomi B. Rather


Collaboration Across Disciplines in a Private Practice Healthcare Setting

  • In countries with multiple options for healthcare, it is common for people to seek the services of more than one healthcare provider.
  • Those services are likely to be provided outside of a hospital setting, where there are fewer opportunities for collaboration.
  • Patients may seek additional help in the form of herbs, tinctures, vitamins and other non-prescribed medicines, which can impact the safety or efficacy of prescribed medicines.
  • These patients are often quite vulnerable, perhaps suffering from:
    • Chronic pain that’s difficult to treat.
    • Childhood maltreatment/abuse/neglect.
    • Loneliness, lack of support.
    • Emotional or physical disabilities.
    • Addictions
  • Healthcare providers in private practice are paid only for the time they see patients—not for collaborating.
  • They may have few or short interactions with patients.
  • They are often isolated from practitioners of different disciplines.
  • They may have limited experience with collaboration across disciplines.
  • A new idea about how providers could talk about cases was introduced to a group of 22 healthcare practitioners who shared office space.
  • A small subgroup of practitioners chose to meet monthly for the next 18 months.
  • The participants developed a connection that allowed them to both support and challenge each other.
  • New ideas about healthcare emerged in the process, benefiting patients and providers.
  • Collaboration across disciplines seemed to be linked to valuing multiple perspectives, outside one’s own discipline.
  • An ability to engage in dialogue that is open and curious and mutually respectful, without any pre-conceived agendas.
  • A relational connection between collaborators that reflects the above, and provides sufficient safety to generate new ideas.
  • Suggestions for others who wish to collaborate across disciplines in healthcare include patients requesting that their various healthcare providers engage in collaborative dialogue about their care.
  • Professional organizations can recommend collaboration across disciplines as part of guidelines for ethical care.
  • Medical and Allied Healthcare training programs can instill and foster these values during training, through Interprofessional Education.
  • Technology can be utilized to foster collaboration across disciplines, through shared medical records or notes.