Interdisciplinary Team

Do many of your cases involve working with other offices?  If you are a specialist then the answer is certainly yes. However, I suspect it is also the case for most restorative offices as well. So the question is: how is that working for you?  In this article I will share some tips that I have found helpful to keep things easy, predictable and smooth when working with your interdisciplinary team.

Tip One

This tip is aimed at the restorative doctors as you are a vital part of the team!  What I mean by this is it is way too easy to send your patient off to a specialist and say something to the effect of “do your thing.” The problem with this is what they envision when they look at the case might not be what you’re thinking and if this is the case you could find yourself in a bad situation when the patient returns.  The key here is to remember your specialists can’t read your mind.  An agreed upon treatment plan needs to involve collaborative input from all parties involved.  Furthermore, it is important to remember the most important of these parties is the patient and all the providers are equal and as such they should have equal input and “pull” wile planning cases.

Tip Two

This tip ties back to the first and is aimed at the specialists. Don’t start any non-emergency treatment until you and all those involved are clear on the desired final outcome and what it is going to take to get there.  Failure to do this can easily lead to a frustrated restorative office and/or patient.

Tip Three

This tip is critical for all involved and is that once the plan is established then continued communication is crucial.  In my practice this means when one office involved in the plan sees the patient then that information is shared with the other offices involved.

Here is an example of what ideal interdisciplinary team communication looks like in my office from start to finish

  • First, all the offices I am considering involving receives all my notes and images regarding the case along with my initial thoughts on the case before they see the patient.
  • Once they have seen the patient all of us will discuss the case further.
  • After a treatment plan has been established and accepted the next CRITICAL step is that all the offices keep each other apprised accordingly. This means we all know what each other is doing and the patient never leaves an office without their next appointment.
  • If their next appointment is in a different office then that appointment is made for them by the office they are leaving while they are still in the office that is handing them off.
  • It should never be left to the patient to call and make their next appointment.

What if one office wants the other office to talk to the patient about something when they see the patient next?  Communication is key here – it is critical that the office they are going to knows the question or questions they should expect to be asked.  This is for 3 reasons:

  • We know the patient might forget to ask
  • You don’t want the third office to be caught off guard
  • It demonstrates to the patient that we are all communicating and ensuring their treatment goes well.

For even more on interdisciplinary communication stay tuned for an upcoming course from the Spear Online Course Library from Dr. Kevin Kwiecien and Dr. Mary Anne Salcetti about interdisciplinary team communication.

John R. Carson, DDS, PC, Spear Visiting Faculty and Contributing Author