Interdisciplinary care teams play a pivotal role in mitigating the clinician shortage

The evolving health care landscape presents a growing demand for skilled providers. To meet this challenge, health care leaders must prioritize innovation and explore solutions that leverage existing resources to deliver the high-quality care that patients deserve.

The U.S. health care system faces a looming crisis: a critical shortage of clinicians. The Health Resources and Service Administration predicts a shortfall of nearly 140,000 physicians by 2036. Compounding this issue, a recent report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce indicates that 42 out of 50 states are projected to experience a nursing shortage by 2030, a challenge many states are already grappling with. This lack of qualified personnel is a significant factor contributing to the closure of clinical services and even medical centers nationwide, ultimately hindering access to quality care and driving up health care costs for Americans.

To ensure patients continue to receive high-quality care in the face of critical health care resource shortages, a patient-centric approach supported by an interdisciplinary care team of field responders/paramedics, nurse practitioners (NPs), physician associates, registered nurses (RNs), and physicians who provide acute and transitional care to the most complex patients in their home can be implemented. This innovative strategy prioritizes meeting individuals at every stage of the health care journey, efficiently connecting patients with the most appropriate resources, and empowering them to manage their care collaboratively through planning and preparation.

The interdisciplinary care team

An interdisciplinary care team stands as the cornerstone of optimal health care resource allocation. Combining the strengths of each team member, ensures patients receive the right care at the right time and in the right setting. Field responders, for example, excel at rapid on-site assessment and environmental awareness. This crucial information empowers telehealth providers to leverage their expertise and identify the root cause of a patient’s condition. This collaborative approach encompassing a patient’s full spectrum of needs ultimately leads to improved health outcomes and a better patient experience. From there, a team of RN care coordinators seamlessly picks up the baton, ensuring continuity of care using telehealth technology. These dedicated nurses connect patients with vital community resources, educate caregivers and patients to empower informed decision-making, and closely monitor for early changes in the patient’s condition. Their vigilance allows for timely escalation when necessary while preparing patients to confidently manage their health care journey independently.

What’s next?

The future of health care delivery is likely to see a significant rise in the prominence of home-based care. Field responders, NPs, and PAs are well-positioned to play a central role in this shift. As training, education, care models, and mindsets evolve, we can expect these professionals to become even more specialized and impactful. This includes the potential for expanded care in the often-underserved areas of palliative care and mental health, allowing for more comprehensive treatment options for patients in the comfort of their own homes.

Optimizing the health care ecosystem requires recognizing the evolving role of paramedics and other health care providers. Empowering them to deliver care in patients’ homes presents a strategic solution to alleviate strain on the system and address the clinician shortage. An interdisciplinary team approach, where paramedics and other providers work collaboratively, can significantly enhance patient care and build resilience within the health care system as a whole.

Jamie Babcock is a health care executive.


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