The reactionary nature of the current healthcare delivery system in the United States has led to increased healthcare spending from acute exacerbations of chronic disease and unnecessary hospitalizations. Those who suffer from chronic diseases are particularly at risk. The dynamics of health care must include grappling with the complexities of where and how people live and attempt to manage their health and disease. Team-based care may offer a solution due to its interdisciplinary focus on proactive, preventative care delivered in outpatient primary care.
Studies examining the effects of team-based care have shown improvement in; HbA1c, blood pressure, lipids, healthcare team morale, patient satisfaction rates, quality of care, and patient empowerment. In an effort to improve type 2 diabetes health outcomes and patient satisfaction a team based care project was implemented. The setting was an outpatient primary care clinic where the patients are known to have limited social resources. The healthcare team was comprised of a DNP Student, Master of Social Work Student, Clinical Pharmacist, and Primary Care Physician, who discussed patient specifics during informal meetings and referral processes.
Adult patients whose HbA1c level was greater than 6.5% were eligible to participate, 183 were identified and invited. Fourteen (14) agreed to participate and seven (7) completed the initial screening with a mean HbA1c of 9.7%. Significant social needs were identified using the Health Leads Questionnaire. The diabetes and social needs were addressed by members of the team who met individually with patients monthly over the course of three months. Of those who completed the initial evaluation only two (2) returned for a follow-up and had a repeat HbA1c. Both participants had important improvements in their A1C with a decrease of 2.3%, and 3.4%. The others were lost to follow up for unknown reasons. Despite the small numbers of participants this project suggests that patients can benefit when an interdisciplinary team addresses their needs and this could improve health outcomes.