The Disease Management Care Blog just assumed that if it took equal scoops of adaptable physicians, dedicated nurses and supportive culture and baked with a dollop of accountability, "teaming" would just.... happen.
It turns out that what may come out of that clinical practice oven is a lot more complicated than that.
Which is why medical home advocates should pay attention to this article by George Washington University's Debra Goetz Goldberg and colleagues. Interested in finding out more about primary care "teaming," they interviewed, reviewed and observed three different Virginia clinics that had embarked on transformative quality improvement programs.
Each clinic came up with a different version of "teaming":
1."Top of License" - nurses interviewed the patients, presented the problems to the docs and then documented the care plan. They were also responsible for the patient education. Thanks to using this model, the physicians almost doubled the number of patients they were seeing per day.
2. "Care Coordinator" - nurses focused on helping patients undergoing care "transitions" (typically out of the hospital) and provided self-management and health education to high-risk, high complexity patients. Interestingly, unsatisfactory reimbursement levels forced the practice to cut back, but they still doubled mammography and blood pressure control rates among persons with diabetes mellitus.
3. "Enhanced Traditional" - the physicians still performed the bulk of the patient care but the researchers observed that the other clinic personnel benefited from increased trust, communication and hand-offs that translated into patient centered care, shared responsibility and heightened volunteerism. The practice was unable to measure any outcomes.
"Very interesting!" says the DMCB. Authoritative web-sites like this or this and peer-reviewed articles like this refer to "teaming," but fail to precisely define it. Assuming the three categories described by Goetz-Goldberg (in shorthand, "TL," "CC" and "ET") hold up in future studies, the DMCB looks forward to learning which approach results in the greatest quality or cost-savings.
Coda: As a reader bonus, the authors offer up a definition of "team-based care" that seems to span all three models and can be used for the DMCB readers' quoting pleasure:
"A group of diverse clinicians who participate in and communicate with each other regularly about the care of a defined group or panel of patients."