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The Importance of Collaborative Care in Nursing and Its Benefits

Nursing is all about teamwork, and collaborative care is the ultimate team-building exercise. Find out how it works in this article.

Mical DuBrow profile
By Mical DeBrow
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Edited by Nelsy Mtsweni
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Fact-check by C8 Staff

Updated March 19, 2024.

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Nurses work under relentless stress. Workloads are demanding, schedules are tight, and tasks need to be constantly reprioritized. When working in a silo, this is the kind of pressure that leads to burnout fast.

The American Association of Critical Care Nurses identifies collaboration as one of the six key standards for creating a healthy work environment. To collaborate effectively, nursing teams need to be well organized with easy access to knowledge they can trust, all working according to the same clinical best practices.

Below, we'll take a closer look at just how important it is to establish seamless collaborative care in nursing, and how that can benefit your care teams and patients alike.

Meet the Expert

Mical DeBrow is an accomplished healthcare leader and clinician with extensive expertise spanning pharma, healthcare payers and providers, and healthcare information technology.

What is Collaborative Care?

Collaborative care is a specific type of integrated care. It involves healthcare professionals from different fields working together towards a common goal—to provide the highest standard of care to the patient.

This may include doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and other health practitioners jointly making patient care decisions.

This works by letting people who are experts in different areas share their knowledge when it’s needed. This way, they can understand a patient’s needs better and work together to help the patient as much as possible.

The key elements of collaborative care include:

  • Shared Goals: Everyone on the team has the same goal—to do what’s best for the patient.

  • Clear Roles: Everyone knows what their job is. This makes the team work better and helps increase adherence to best practices in healthcare.

  • Mutual Respect: Everyone values and respects what the others bring to the patient’s care.

  • Effective Communication:  Everyone talks openly and often to make sure they all understand the plan for the patient’s treatment.

» Looking to leverage AI in healthcare? Find out how innovation is improving patient care.

Why is Collaborative Care Important?

In healthcare, patients come first. But that doesn't mean neglecting the needs of healthcare professionals, too. When collaborating with other disciplines, nurses can provide more comprehensive and coordinated care, while getting the right information when and where they need it. This leads to:

  • Improved patient outcomes Collaborative care in knowledge management ensures that all healthcare professionals have access to the latest vetted guidelines. This leads to better patient care as everyone’s knowledge and skills are utilized effectively.

    For instance, within an intensive care unit, a nurse caring for a patient with a complex neurological condition might use the knowledge management system to quickly refer to the latest guidelines or research in neurology. This ensures that the patient’s care plan is based on the most recent advances in neurology, leading to improved patient outcomes.

  • Optimized use of resources Collaborative care ensures that all healthcare professionals involved in a patient’s care have access to the same information. This consistency reduces the risk of miscommunication or misinformation, which can lead to unnecessary tests or treatments.

  • Enhanced job satisfaction Working in a collaborative environment can help improve job satisfaction among healthcare professionals. This is due to a proper support system during crises, improving the rate of burnout. Encouraging staff development and providing necessary support is critical for optimal functioning.

» Looking to boost morale? Here's how to address burnout in healthcare.

Benefits of Collaborative Care in Nursing

Streamlining Information Access

Nurses can immediately access new drug information and the latest diagnosis techniques with a robust collaborative care framework, promoting safe medication administration. Consequently, they can quickly consult a colleague specializing in a particular medical field.

Breaking Down Traditional Barriers

Collaborative care also helps break down traditional walls between certain fields, facilitating a better flow of crucial information.

Healthcare institutions can ensure that all relevant data reaches the right nurse at the right time by harnessing the latest advancements in medical technologies like AI and machine learning.

Challenges in Collaborative Care

Despite its numerous benefits, implementing collaborative care is not without challenges. One significant challenge is ensuring that all information is readily accessible, especially during high-stress situations such as managing multiple patients in critical condition to reduce and avoid medical errors.

The lack of real-time access to crucial data can significantly hinder effective patient management.

Another primary roadblock is the fear and reluctance among clinicians to admit uncertainty or lack of knowledge about a treatment procedure. This can hamper collaboration, leading to inefficiencies in patient care.

» Make your organization's knowledge accessible to everyone on the team with this solution.

Overcoming Challenges: The Role of Technology

Integrating innovative technology into healthcare is a significant step toward enhancing patient care through collaborative healthcare. Advanced tools are crucial in offering various solutions to the challenges that interdisciplinary healthcare providers face.

These tools can help share best practices within and between departments and professions. This addresses the challenge of clinicians’ reluctance to admit uncertainty or lack of knowledge, as it encourages a culture of learning and collaboration.