Optimal Team Practice Is the Future of Healthcare
In healthcare, the term “team-based care” is becoming more common as a way to describe the growing trend of patients receiving care from multiple providers. This type of care has been shown to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction while also reducing costs.
A large part of the reason team-based care is becoming more popular is because it enables providers to focus on what they’re good at (and what matters to patients) without having to worry as much about administrative tasks.
One type of team-based care model is known as Optimal Team Practice (OTP). OTP is a way for physician assistants (PAs), physicians, and other healthcare professionals to work together to provide quality care without cumbersome administrative burdens.
In OTP, each team member has a defined role and set of responsibilities. This allows the team to function like a well-oiled machine, with each member playing an important part in delivering high-quality care.
This begins primarily with state legislation, which could support OTP by:
- Allowing PAs to practice to the full extent of their education, training and experience, without being limited by a legal relationship with a physician.
- Creating a separate PA-majority board to oversee PAs themselves.
- Requiring the public and private insurance sectors to proactively authorize PAs so that they may be eligible for direct payment.
How Does Optimal Team Practice Work?
In order to make OTP work, healthcare organizations need to have systems in place that allow providers to share information and communicate with each other easily. Additionally, everyone involved must be clear about their roles and responsibilities.
For example, the physician might be responsible for making sure the patient receives the right diagnosis, while the PA would be responsible for following up with a treatment plan. By clearly defining everyone’s roles, OTP can help ensure that everyone is working together effectively, saving time and the common overlap of effort.
Benefits of OTP for Healthcare Providers
One of the biggest benefits of OTP is that it helps to reduce administrative burdens. In OTP, the fact that each team member has clearly defined responsibilities eliminates the need for duplicate testing or paperwork and ensures that everyone on the team is aware of their fellow team members’ strengths and weaknesses. As a result, tasks can be completed more efficiently and without redundancy.
Additionally, OTP can help improve communications between providers, leading to better coordination of care. OTP also offers financial benefits for healthcare providers; since OTP teams are able to see more patients in a day, they can generate more revenue without sacrificing quality of care.
When a PA does not need to have a particular doctor-patient connection, their employer may be more flexible in building healthcare teams and better satisfy patient needs while reducing provider burnout.
This requirement also removes physician liability for the treatment PAs provide when physicians aren’t involved as well as any legal risk of disciplinary action for non-medical reasons.
Benefits of OTP for Patients
Patients also reap the benefits of Optimal Team Practice. When PAs, physicians, and other healthcare professionals work together as a team, patients can receive more efficient and more equitable access to care. They will likely experience shorter wait times and improved continuity of care.
In addition, patients who receive care through OTP have been shown to have better health outcomes than those who do not receive team-based care, especially as it pertains to access to care.
PAs being legally required to have a specific relationship with a physician often results in the PA no longer being able to provide care to the same patients if the physician retires, suddenly relocates, becomes disabled, or dies. If state laws and regulations removed this requirement, patients would have more undisturbed access to care, especially those who live in rural areas or are considered medically underserved populations.
Implementing Optimal Team Practice in Your Organization
If you’re interested in implementing Optimal Team Practice in your organization (pending your state regulations), there are a few things you should keep in mind.
First, it’s important to assemble a team of healthcare professionals with complementary skills and experience. Second, each team member must be clear about their respective roles and responsibilities. Once the team is in place and everyone understands their role, you can begin developing processes and systems that support optimal care delivery. With careful planning and execution, you can transform your organization into one that delivers the highest-quality and most patient-centered care.
Healthcare leaders who are interested in implementing an OTP model should keep the following steps in mind:
- Define the roles and responsibilities of each team member.
- Select the right mix of team members based on their skills and abilities.
- Train team members on how to effectively communicate with one another.
- Establish protocols for handling disruptions in the workflow.
- Regularly review the performance of the team and make adjustments as necessary.
Ultimately, OTP is a method for physician assistants (PAs), physicians, and other healthcare professionals to collaborate to provide high-quality care while minimizing administrative hassles.
There are several advantages of adopting an OTP approach in healthcare organizations, including decreased errors, increased provider job happiness, improved patient satisfaction, and reduced overall expenses. Healthcare leaders who want to introduce an OTP model should note the recommendations listed above when making the switch.
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