Team-based care is coming, and doctors must adapt

care team
Many healthcare systems see the use of care teams as a way to improve the lives patients and physicians, while increasing staff efficiency.

As more and more health systems embrace team-based care provision, the role of the physician is changing from solo practitioner to team leader. That’s a big adjustment, but with it come benefits for patients and physicians alike.

A collaborative report produced by Politico and the Pew Charitable Trusts’ blog Stateline describes the average patient visit at a Denver-based clinic involves a lot of contact with a medical assistant, and much less time with the doctor. The assistant systematically gathers patient information such as symptoms and medical history, then stays in the room during doctor visits, and remains behind to ensure patients understand their course of treatment.

It took C.T. Lin, M.D, time to get used to having a medical assistant present during his exams. But Lin, who serves as the chief information officer for UCHealth, where he also practices, the arrangement removes a lot of administrative burden and allows him to zero in on his patients’ issues. “Now I’m just left with the assessment and the plan—the medical decisions—which is really my job,” he told the publication.

By doubling the number of medical assistants the practice employs, the article reports doctors have more time to see more patients. Those extra patients, in turn, pay for the additional staff needed to serve them.

That sort of efficiency has intrigued health systems looking for ways to deliver higher-quality care more efficiently as the industry shifts from volume-based payment methodologies to value-based ones. According to previous reporting from FierceHealthcare, the good news is that, in this case, team-based care not only works for administrators from an efficiency standpoint, but it also improves patient outcomes and drives up patients’ perceptions of the value of their care.

With physician burnout a perennial concern as well, physicians who are able to adapt their workflows to team-based care may find themselves less stressed, even as they help more patients, according to the report.