Working together to share knowledge and ideas
Louise Hampton is a chiropractor and owner of Attend2Health shares her experiences of collaborative working in a multi-disciplinary practice
01.02.21 Registrant Blog
Attend2Health is a multidisciplinary practice with a team of four chiropractors, three osteopaths and three physiotherapists. We also offer sports therapy, podiatry and acupuncture. Although we are individuals with specific expertise and specialisms we recognise the value of working together to provide the best support to our patients.
We meet regularly to discuss patients and welcome the different perspective a colleague can provide. For example, I might seek advice from one of the other chiropractors in the practice who has a special interest in headaches and is great at neck adjustments. Their specialist knowledge can really make a difference in progressing the patient’s treatment.
We also refer patients to each other if we feel the patient would benefit from a different course of treatment. A chiropractor or osteopath might treat a patient with back pain but after a few weeks we recognise that strengthening exercises would help the pain. In this case we would refer to the physiotherapist or a sports therapist in order to progress more rehab focused treatment. It is about considering all possible approaches to find the most effective solution for the patient.
All clinic notes can be accessed by the clinicians with the patient’s permission so everyone is able to get an overview of the treatment a patient has received and how they have responded. We also talk to the referred clinician to explain the basis of the referral and discuss next steps for the patient’s treatment. This means the patient has a smooth transition between clinicians and continuity of care.
Sharing knowledge and ideas
A multi-disciplinary practice really benefits from knowledge sharing. As well as discussing specific patient cases we often discuss new treatment approaches and best practice. For example, I recently went on a course about vestibular exercises and dizziness and shared these learnings with the team when I returned.
In a recent discussion around hips with a physiotherapist in the practice I was told about a piece of equipment that helps to mobilise the hips. We now have the Mulligan mobilisation belts available in every room for clinicians to use. It’s great to share different ideas and methods which can be included as part of patient’s treatment.
A counsellor will soon join our team too. Given the mental health issues that are linked to pain and the link between chronic low back pain and trauma I think this is a really important role that will further support patients attending the clinic.
There is still a lack of understanding amongst a small number of GPs about the work of chiropractors. As a result, it is common for GPs to refer patients to a physiotherapist. Whilst this is the right solution for some patients, for others it would be more beneficial to be referred to a chiropractor or osteopath. Working in a multi-disciplinary practice we see patients referred by their GP to the physiotherapist who immediately recognises that the patient would make better progress with treatment from a chiropractor or osteopath.
There is a risk that some physiotherapists may choose not to make a referral for fear of losing a patient. Such an approach fails to put the needs of the patient first. A multi-disciplinary practice where collaboration is commonplace eliminates this element of competition.
For every patient we treat we write a letter to their GP to inform them of the patient’s treatment plan and how we plan to progress. We want to ensure there is a joined-up approach to the patient’s care and that treatment undertaken at the practice is taken into account in any future decisions made by the GP.
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