Multidisciplinary clinics offer expertise as well as ease

Sept. 20, 2018

This paid piece is sponsored by Avera.

There was a time in health care when a complex case might mean trip after trip to a variety of clinics, hospitals and offices to see each doctor. For some conditions and health needs, Avera physicians and care teams are providing single-stop service with specialty clinics, even for patients who may face a wide-ranging set of health challenges.

“These multifaceted clinics allow us to create individual plans for each patient. We can involve many specialists in their care, and they keep the focus on their needs,” said John Mathison, Avera vice president of specialty clinics.

“When we engage multiple experts, all sharing ideas and approaches seamlessly, the patient benefits, both in terms of care received and in time saved. We model these clinics to complete this collaborative care in a single visit.”

Breast cancer is one diagnosis that lends itself to this approach.

“The Breast Cancer Consult Clinic is focused on new diagnosis, and it allows patients who seek additional information a chance to meet with experts from across multiple disciplines, including medical and radiation oncologists, as well as surgeons, other specialized members of our team and navigators,” said Jill Schultz, Avera breast health director.

“Our High-Risk Breast Cancer and Prevention Clinic is one that patients often are referred to. We can schedule the best possible appointments after a thorough evaluation of the patient’s information. In both cases, the patient is central to every piece of information reviewed and considered.”

Mathison highlighted the fact that Avera offers a wide range of specially focused clinics and is considering adding more.

Mary Jones, who heads the Avera Brain & Spine Institute, points to the multidimensional approach her team uses to help families and patients who face ALS. The work focuses on providing patients support most needed at each clinic visit. The visits are designed to ensure the patient will see the appropriate team members who can address the specific needs of the day.

“We aim to ease burdens for patients and families,” she said. “ALS is a devastating disease; having a single day of appointments in one location helps ease the burden for patients. They can see their nurse and doctor, other physicians as needed, along with therapists, social workers and registered dietitians. Representatives from a regional ALS advocacy association also are on hand, and they help. The multidisciplinary team also benefits – they are practicing together in one location, allowing for point-of-care collaboration and patient-centered, focused treatment that best fits the patient’s stage of the disease.”

A specialized clinic focused on Down syndrome can help patients who may need specialists from a variety of disciplines. Along with their families, they can see team members during one appointment.

“We can coordinate the child’s care in real time, based on the needs they have,” said Dr. Christiane Maroun, Avera Medical Group pediatrician who is part of the medical staff with Avera’s Down syndrome clinic.

“Scheduling individual appointments for care in the many areas of the syndrome can be difficult, especially for people who travel to Sioux Falls. With this model, we can help get assessments and tests done during a single stop.”

Avera also provides a specialized setting to help amputees via its physical medicine and rehabilitation clinic. For instance, Avera Medical Group Rheumatology hosts a multidisciplinary clinic that focuses on gout and offers comprehensive care from a team approach. It is unique in the region. Since many patients – in some cases, more than half – are visiting these tailored settings from out of town, their use in health care is something likely to increase.

Mathison said Avera envisions the development of other multidisciplinary clinics. The convenience for patients, as well as the enthusiastic response from Avera providers, will make the approach more commonplace in the future.

“Combining the strengths of diverse, inspired professionals, allowing them to share ideas and consider the best approaches means our patients get the best treatment possible,” Mathison said. “Treatment puts them at the center of an approach tailored uniquely for their needs.”

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Multidisciplinary clinics offer expertise as well as ease

“When we engage multiple experts, all sharing ideas and approaches seamlessly, the patient benefits.” From breast cancer to Down syndrome, Avera is approaching care with single-stop service for many conditions and health needs.

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