Interdisciplinary team work is the key to success within healthcare services.


Interdisciplinary team work is increasingly prevalent, supported by policies and practices that bring care closer to the patient and challenge traditional professional boundaries.

Today everyone speaks about the importance of good interdisciplinary cooperation’s. But when it comes to practice it’s too little interdisciplinary cooperation’s both in private and public sector. Even though everyone is talking about cross-cutting cooperation, there is still silo thinking that is prevailing.

The health care in service in general should learn from the Norwegian rehabilitations sector in the specialist health care services. Norwegian rehabilitations specialist health care services established Interdisciplinary team with success. Positive leadership and management attributes in this sector has been; communication strategies and structures; personal rewards, training and development; appropriate resources and procedures; appropriate skill mix; supportive team climate; individual characteristics that support interdisciplinary team work; clarity of vision; quality and outcomes of care; and respecting and understanding roles.

Interdisciplinary team work is a complex process in which different types of staff work together to share expertise, knowledge, and skills to impact on patient care. Despite increasing emphasis on interdisciplinary team work over the past decade, in particular the growth of interdisciplinary education, there is little evidence as to the most effective way of delivering interdisciplinary team work. This difficulty is compounded by the multifactorial nature of team work, which comprises the skill mix, setting of care, service organization, individual relationships and management structures.

To improve interdisciplinary team, work the rehabilitations sector focus on specifics of team work activities such as: sharing of patient files, case-conferencing approaches, or meeting style or frequency.

A wide range of terms are used to describe collaborative working arrangements between professionals. Terms such as interdisciplinary, interprofessional, multiprofessional, and multidisciplinary are often used interchangeably in the literature to refer to both different types of teams and different processes within them. They are also often used in conjunction with the term team work. However, there are some consistent distinctions that are useful to understand. The terms inter/multi-professional are generally narrower than the terms inter/multi-disciplinary and refer to teams consisting exclusively of professionals from different professions or disciplines, or at least to the relationships between professionals in teams that may also include other non-professional staff. The terms inter/multi-disciplinary are broader and include all members of healthcare teams, professional and non-professional.

The term “interdisciplinary team” is used as a generic term of reference for these healthcare teams which included a range of health service workers, both professionals and non-professionals, with the majority being from professional groups.

Research has showed the fundamental concepts and features associated with team work. A concept analysis to explore the basic understanding of team work in the healthcare context drew on both healthcare and literature from other disciplines such as human resource management, organisational behaviour, and education.

A dynamic process involving two or more health professionals with complementary backgrounds and skills, sharing common health goals and exercising concerted physical and mental effort in assessing, planning, or evaluating patient care. This is accomplished through interdependent collaboration, open communication and shared decision-making. This in turn generates value-added patient, organisational and staff outcomes.

Collaboration is acknowledged as an important component of team processes. Respect and trust, both for oneself and others, is key to collaboration. As such, patience, nurturance and time are required to build a relationship so that collaboration can occur. Identified factors within the rehabilitations sector: joint venture, cooperative endeavor, willing participation, shared planning and decision-making, team approach, contribution of expertise, shared responsibility, non-hierarchical relationships and shared power based on knowledge and expertise.


Necessity of interdisciplinary team work

The need for interdisciplinary team work is increasing as a result of a number of factors including:

(1) an aging wave that will hit Norway in 2030 and larger numbers of patients with more complex needs associated with chronic diseases;

(2) the increasing complexity of skills and knowledge required to provide comprehensive care to patients;

(3) increasing specialization within health professions and a corresponding fragmentation of disciplinary knowledge resulting in no-one health care professional being able to meet all the complex needs of their patients;

(4) the current emphasis on multi-professional team work and development of shared learning; and,

(5) the pursuit of continuity of care within the move towards continuous quality improvement.

Workforce re-structuring to meet these needs requires that interdisciplinary teams must integrate changing organisational values with new modes of service delivery.

Interdisciplinary teamwork is an important model for delivering health care to patients.

As the name implies, teamwork in health care employs the practices of collaboration and enhanced communication to expand the traditional roles of health workers and to make decisions as a unit that works toward a common goal. Teamwork and collaboration are especially essential to care of patients in a decentralized health system with many levels of health workers.

Successful health teams strive to understand the patient’s situation, ask probing questions about the problem, make an initial assessment and, after discussion, provide a recommendation.

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