Interdisciplinary facilities are all the rage right now. These facilities bring multiple kinds practitioners with different backgrounds like Doctors, Therapists/Clinicians, Strength and Conditioning Coaches, etc. together and offer different services under one roof. What does it take to truly benefit from having all of these professionals in one place? The easy part is providing one building for multiple practitioners to work in. The hard part is getting these practitioners to collaborate so the client benefits (true collaboration is not just meeting over lunch to discuss clients). I have worked in all kinds of different settings from solo practitioner to facilities with large numbers of different practitioners and I can tell you that true interdisciplinary care is rare and very difficult to attain… but not impossible So what needs to happen?
No Ego… NOT!
I hear this all the time, but let’s be honest the best practitioners at what they do have some degree of ego. Having ego is not the problem. Having very good practitioners that share different principles, methods of communication, and systems are the bigger challenge. So… let’s start that list again.
1. Common Principles
General principles like honesty and integrity need to be shared….this is generally understood. Specific principles on the other hand are often less discussed but vital that they are agreed upon. For example, every practitioner in our facility believes moving well is important. This is a general principle that most would agree to. However, what does moving well mean? For example, when we say we value moving well, do we mean fundamental human movement, such as ‘can a client touch their toes’? Or, do we mean sport specific movement like sprint mechanics? Are they both important? Are they related? If so how do we screen, assess, and implement a plan to address problems that are recognized. The specific principles are often where breakdown occurs and collaboration goes out the window.
2. Common Language
It is vital that there is a working language that everyone from Physician to Strength Coach understands. Having a Clinician talk to a Strength Coach about the range of motion that was gained at the the TL junction does no good when the Strength Coach just wants to get their client to deadlift.
3. Common Operating Systems
On the technical side of things, where and how client records are kept is vital. Doctors having medical chart system and Strength Coaches using their own systems to prescribe training does not promote collaboration. This is a tough one because most of these tracking systems are sold as either specializing in medical or training (I believe because there is not a large enough market doing true interdisciplinary care to make it a worthwhile business venture). On the workflow and client intake side of things, a clear screening process should direct the client to the appropriate professional. All too often these “interdisciplinary facilities” have no screening pathway and it becomes a merry go round of services. The end result usually results in the client dishing out a lot of money for subpar outcomes.
Oh and by the way, bigger facilities do not mean better care. The more people and the bigger the space, brings more challenges to true interdisciplinary care. I believe the industry has begun to recognize this and is moving towards smaller facilities that are better able to address the needs and goals of the clients in a true interdisciplinary manner.
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