At Marathon Health we like to use the term “hub” to describe our approach to health improvement. By that we mean our onsite health centers serve as a hub for PCPs, specialists, and other providers as we coordinate each patient’s care and eliminate fragmentation in delivery. We believe in the team approach. And apparently, we’re not alone.

Team-based healthcare, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, is on the rise across the industry and is predicted to become the norm in the next 10 years.

The idea of team-based care is to allow the team members to practice at the highest level allowed by their training and medical license, according to the article. Physician assistants, for example, do clinical rotations in different specialties. They can examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses, provide treatment, prescribe medications and perform some surgical procedures. But they must be under the supervision of physicians, and the care they can provide varies widely by state and by health-care provider.

Don Goldmann, chief medical officer of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, told the paper that he expects within 10 years team-based care will be the norm.

“In many primary-care practices today, physicians are doing a great deal of work that could be done by others on the team,” he said.

And team-based care seems to be working.

A 2012 University of Washington study looked at 214 adults with depression, combined with either diabetes or heart disease or both. It found that after two years, patients overseen by a team of nurses, working under primary-care-doctor supervision, were significantly less depressed and had improved levels of blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure, compared with patients who didn’t receive nurse coaching and monitoring.

We apply some form of team-based care at all of our health centers. For some of our larger clients we have a team of clinicians with specifically defined roles as Dr. Goldmann describes. But all of our clients, no matter the size, use the hub model mentioned earlier. It’s a much more effective and efficient way of providing care when you have a team working together under the supervision of a medical director, while at the same time working with other providers in the community so everyone is on the same page.

We look forward to the day when this becomes the norm. Patients will certainly benefit.

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