Meeting the needs of persons with complex, chronic diseases is increasingly challenging in a healthcare environment where the demand for high-quality comprehensive services is coupled with dwindling resources. According to the Institute of Medicine, “the ability to plan care and practice effectively using multidisciplinary teams takes on increasing importance as the proportion of the population with chronic conditions grows.”1 This kind of collaboration is increasingly important to ensure high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive patient-centered care.
Effective interprofessional collaboration is built on a foundation of collegiality, mutual trust and respect, open communication, understanding and appreciation for each member’s professional expertise, and shared responsibility and decision-making.2-4 It involves members of different disciplines working together as a coordinated team to achieve a common goal: providing a level of care that surpasses what individual members can provide independently. Benefits can include increased patient satisfaction and compliance, increased care efficiency, decreased healthcare costs, and reduced hospitalizations.5
A Concept Built Into ARHP
As a multidisciplinary health professional organization, ARHP provides many opportunities that promote interprofessional collaboration.
- Networking: Members can meet and network with rheumatology colleagues from around the world at the ARHP annual scientific meetings; these contacts become ongoing relationships among colleagues from varied disciplines who share common research or practice interests. Four list serves directed to the clinical, research, pediatric, and rehabilitation communities allow members to communicate and collaborate year-round.
- Continuing Education Programs: ARHP provides outstanding educational programs with an interprofessional focus. Meetings are structured so that participants may attend both ARHP and ACR sessions, for example. ARHP Web-based case studies and interactive audioconferences also provide an opportunity to gain a wider perspective on topics of interest to rheumatology health professionals.
- Advocacy: Through the ACR Legislative Action Center and the Advocates for Arthritis Program, ARHP members can join other members in advocating for issues important to rheumatology patients and practice. Bringing an interprofessional focus to Capitol Hill helps educate legislators about the burden of rheumatic diseases and the complexities of our healthcare system as it affects our patients.
- Volunteering: There are many ARHP volunteer opportunities that promote interprofessional collaboration. Members of ARHP committees, subcommittees, and task forces work collaboratively with ARHP colleagues from diverse disciplines and geographic areas. ARHP members also serve as liaisons to ACR committees and subcommittees and on REF councils and study groups.
These opportunities are among many key benefits of membership. As we face increasing demands to provide more effective and efficient services with fewer resources, the chance to foster interprofessional collaboration may become even more valuable.