Interprofessional Care Practices & Perspectives Among Providers in Rural Healthcare Settings
BACKGROUND: With the highly specialized medical resources available today, patients obtain care from multiple providers. Numerous studies outline the risk for communication breakdown among providers and related implications for patient care and satisfaction. Effective interprofessional collaboration and care have been identified as critical to overcoming many barriers of health care including quality of care, patient satisfaction, provider burnout, cost of care, and clinician education. Health professionals practicing in rural settings often have blurred lines in disciplinary boundaries due to restricted access to specialist expertise. A gap in the literature exists regarding how interprofessional care (IPC) is viewed and utilized among rural providers. To begin to address that gap, the purpose of this study to explore the perceptions and practices of IPC among providers in rural healthcare settings.
DESIGN/METHODS: This exploratory, mixed-method study utilized an electronic survey to gather perception data from PAs in rural Kentucky practices on the topic of interprofessional care. Data from the 10-item survey instrument were analyzed via thematic analyses, T-tests, and Pearson bivariate correlation tests.
RESULTS: 64.7% of participants emphasized the importance of a team effort in healthcare success. 82.4% of participants reported engaging in IPC five or more times a week, with no study participants reporting a total absence of IPC. A moderate correlation was identified between general providers and the use of IPC 5 or more times a week, as compared specialists. Some barriers preventing more frequent IPC that were identified in this study include time constraints for healthcare decisions and time efficiency in the workplace. The results of this study also suggest that the more specialized a healthcare practice, the fewer IPC engagements per week. Only 30% of the study participants have received post-graduate training in IPC.
CONCLUSION: Results of this study suggest that IPC is valued and practiced in rural settings, particularly primary care, and continued IPC education/training merits consideration.
REFLECTIONS/IMPLICATIONS: This study illuminated several interesting attributes of IPC in rural settings. The majority of rural providers studied demonstrated understanding and support of collaborative care practices. Providers in rural primary care settings are more likely to practice IPC each week than their rural specialist counterparts. Education/training on IPC was varied as is an implication for future study and action, specifically offering CME.
DISCLOSURE:This research was not funded and none of the authors have affiliations nor conflicts of interest to disclose.