Working collaboratively with specialists in other disciplines to evaluate, make decisions, set goals, and share resources for a common purpose.
Healthcare professionals, regardless of their specialty, have a shared role in the health and wellness of their patients. The best health outcomes are achieved through a collaborative approach with each member of the healthcare team. The interdisciplinary approach is important because it provides the greatest impact on the overall health of the most important member of the collective team: the patient.
This holistic approach begins with adopting a mindset that welcomes broader wellness practices that wholly benefit the patient. Once you’ve identified methods to incorporate within your practice, set on a course to receive the education and training necessary to appropriately assimilate them into your treatment modality.
A great example of this has been the integration of blood pressure into preventative care dental appointments. Blood pressure screenings have become the standard of care. Because patients may see their dentist as many as 4 times more frequently than their general practitioners, its value is justified. Monitoring blood pressure has had an impact on patient cardiovascular health because we can detect subtle elevations, indicative of greater systemic concern. If you are not seizing this opportunity, you are missing out on a valuable integrative tool.
Additional adjunctive practices that elevate patient care, and improve opportunities for integrative care are, but may not be limited to:
- Smoking cessation education & programs
- Sleep medicine
- Salivary testing for oral pathogenic bacteria
- Glucose testing
Build a community of communication and mutual respect by joining forces with other medical practitioners in your area. For example, build a rapport by introducing yourself to practitioners and specialists. Invite them to your local professional dental meetings and study clubs, and ask them to join or present to theirs. Specialists that may welcome the creation of a network of collaborative care:
- Sleep specialists
- General practitioners
Lead and manage collaboration among practitioners by creating an atmosphere where the contribution is valued through mutual respect. Seek the input of local specialists for their expertise in training your team for quality outcomes.
The best foundation for collaborative care is a plan that maintains patient-centered care as its focus. Identifying, addressing, and coordinating the needs of the patient should be the cornerstone for everything we do. Let us not forget the patient is the most valuable player in this team of integrative specialists. Their feedback is the springboard for solution-based treatment.
Imagine the possibilities. Dentistry, long known for being focused on the prevention and management of dental disease, has the opportunity to expand beyond our borders and broaden our impact through the screening and prevention of diseases beyond the oral cavity.
Her clinical and support team experiences are the inspiration for her writing and the motivation for coaching clients to success. She is a regular contributor to various publications within dentistry and beyond. In addition to feeding the homeless, starting a non-profit, and being involved in her church and other community organizations, she sings professionally and enjoys several creative outlets. She resides in Florida where she enjoys the company of her husband, three children, and four beautiful grandchildren.