Task Force Report Suggests Implementing Team-Based Care

A new report from the interprofessional Task Force on Collaborative Practice recommended team-based care as a way to offer care that is safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable

Implementing team-based care for multiple specialties and professions, especially for those creating new practice models for care, was an included recommendation in the update to the original 1995 Guidelines for Implementing Collaborative Practice of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), released by the interprofessional Task Force on Collaborative Practice.

The authors consider team-based care more likely to offer care that is safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable. Their guiding principles are as follows: the patient and their family be engaged; the team has a shared vision; role clarity is central to team building and functioning; all members are accountable; effective communication is essential to quality care; and team leadership be situational and dynamic.

According to the report, team composition will vary and depends on the local population and its health, but teams will include providers and non-clinical team members. The only key individual in a team is the patient as all other membership is fluid and will change along with the patient’s needs. Furthermore, team membership is not limited to one location especially with the advent of telehealth.

The report also provided recommendations for effective team-based care. Communication and connectivity are not only critical to healthcare professionals but also to the patient and family in order to ensure that they are fully involved in health care management and decision-making. Health care delivery should also not be limited to traditional sites but should include other areas like public housing projects, mobile health units, birth centers, et cetera. Before engaging in legal agreements, professionals should ensure that they are familiar with state requirements and obtain appropriate legal advice.

ACOG also referred to amending the financial aspects, where cost and payment would be tied to quality. Support for care would focus on reimbursement for improved outcome while patients, payers, hospitals, and practices are responsible for costs. In this case, all team members could take advantage of financial incentives and benefits.

Ultimately team-based care would help achieve Triple Aim: improving the experience of care of individuals and families, improving the health of populations, and lowering per capita costs.

These guidelines are intended to help practices and organizations shift to a team-based approach. The report concluded that “some aspects of creating a team-based approach may be difficult to implement or transition to at first, but long-term benefits… are expected to outweigh short-term difficulties.”