As a recent Institute of Medicine discussion paper (PDF) notes, health care has not always been a team sport. Once upon a time, generalist solo practitioners cared for their communities of patients from cradle to grave. But the past few decades have seen health care transform quickly and dramatically into an exceedingly complex enterprise, with medical knowledge advancing at a breakneck pace and physicians, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists and other clinicians delving deeper into specialties that are only increasing in their technical sophistication.
This transition has also driven the evolution of health care from a service offered by a solo provider to a suite of services performed by a team. And this is a good thing, as the evidence indicates that team-based care can improve patient and provider satisfaction, help increase practice efficiency and improve the quality of care.