By Philip L. Glick and Patricia Ohtake

We are writing this piece because we are educators, clinicians and potential patients. If you are a patient, family member or a care giver, have you ever said, “Don’t those doctors and other health care providers ever talk to each other?” We’ll bet the answer to this question all too often is yes. “We” frequently don’t communicate well interprofessionally.

A powerful solution to this question and to fix many of the other dysfunctional behaviors of health care professionals is Interprofessional Care. IPC is a practice philosophy based on a totally aligned and integrated health care system in which all the professional disciplines, i.e., medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, social work, public health, physical therapy and occupational therapy, etc., including the patient, the family and the care givers, are involved in the assessment, planning and implementation of care. Unlike “uni” or “multi” professional care, where health care professionals may work individually or in parallel, but not communicating effectively together, IPC emphasizes a patient-centric environment and culture where outcomes-based medicine is valued, traditional siloed practices cease and extraneous dysfunction is avoided.

This month, the deans of all of the University at Buffalo health science schools sponsored a workshop titled EHPIC (Educating Health Professionals in IPC). This was attended by about 50 faculty from health sciences, management and law schools, and multiple community partners and institutions. Didactic sessions were supplemented with dialogue and simulation to crystallize the message.

After getting buy-in from a cohort of early IPC adopters, the next practical step will be Interprofessional Education, where the IPC philosophy will be taught to the next generation of health care professionals. A pilot class was taught last winter at UB and the student and faculty responses were unanimously positive. Reviews of clinical research have shown improved patient outcomes in diabetes care, ER management, operating room safety, domestic violence and mental health, and patients are more satisfied with their care.

This game-changer in health care is completely aligned with UB’s 2020 principles of seeking excellence for students and stakeholders, interdisciplinary collaboration, enabling innovation, problem solving, fostering community partnerships and developing implementable plans.

As the Medical Campus becomes a reality, we need to use this workshop to inculcate IPC/IPE into the DNA of the health center’s culture. Our faculty’s development (and retention), students’ careers, communities’ economic future and patients’ lives depend on it.

Philip L. Glick, M.D., is a professor of surgery and management at the University at Buffalo. Patricia Ohtake, P.T., is an associate professor of rehabilitation science.