Optimal team-based health care is associated with improved patient outcomes and physician well-being

Philadelphia, September 17, 2018 – Team-based health care has the capacity to improve patient outcomes, the efficiency of care, and the satisfaction and well-being of physicians and other clinicians, Dr. Cynthia D. Smith and co-authors write in “Implementing Optimal Team-Based Care to Reduce Clinician Burnout,” published today by the National Academy of Medicine.

“Team-based care is becoming increasingly important as the health care delivery systems moves from fee-for-service payments to value-based payment models and care itself becomes more complex,” said Dr. Smith, Vice President for Clinical Programs for the American College of Physicians (ACP). “Studies that include a variety of clinical team types show an association with improved patient outcomes and clinician well-being.”

The authors define team-based health care as the promotion of health services to individuals, families, and/or their communities by at least two health professionals who work collaboratively with patients and their caregivers -- to the extent preferred by each patient -- to accomplish shared goals within and across settings to achieve coordinated, high quality care.

The evidence that connects team-based care with improved patient outcomes includes studies in various settings (ambulatory, emergency department, nursing home, and hospital based care) that identified correlation between team-based care and commonly used markers of health care quality (e.g., clinical quality measures, emergency department utilization, and hospital readmissions).

In their review, the authors also found some evidence of an association between high performing teams and improved clinician well-being. Key features of high performing teams outlined in the paper include mutual trust, clear roles, shared measurable goals, and effective communication. The authors note that further research is needed to fully understand the relationship between team-based care and clinician well-being.

The authors also discuss key components of the health care system that may impede team-based care and propose solutions to address such impediments. Barriers include poor electronic health record (EHR) usability, workforce and training issues, and payment models.

“The evidence is clear that health care organizations that don’t invest in training and sustaining their clinical teams will be at a significant financial disadvantage in the long term,” the authors write. “High-functioning teams have tremendous potential to promote clinician well-being, which is foundational to effective and efficient health care.”

ACP’s Physician Well-being & Professional Satisfaction initiative seeks to create a culture of wellness, improve practice efficiencies, enhance individual physician well-being, and reduce administrative burdens. A key component of ACP’s initiative is establishing and training a dedicated team of ACP Well-being Champions to support their ACP chapter members, practices, and organizations in combating burnout. ACP also offers online resources and educational courses at its national and regional meetings.

ACP’s related Patients Before Paperwork initiative addresses systems challenges and seeks to reinvigorate the patient-physician relationship by reducing excessive administrative burdens.

ACP is an active participant in the National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience.

About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 154,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.