Health Care Team Functioning in a Rural Setting: A Case Study
This paper was originally published in the Proceedings of the Eleventh Annual Interdisciplinary Health Team Care Conference, which took place September 21-23, 1989 at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. It is reproduced here with the permission of the authors.
In the United States today, the majority of family medicine physicians serving rural population practice without the benefit of an interdisciplinary health care team. The lack of variety of health professionals in the rural community coupled with limited access to comprehensive health resources have made it difficult to provide more team oriented care. Yet, when a health care team is used in a rural setting, the care offered is more comprehensive and serves to extend the health services provided beyond those otherwise available in. traditional practices.
This paper presents preliminary data from a case study of a rural health care team comprised of a family medicine physicians, several nurses, and a variety of allied health professionals. The range of non-physician services offered include dietary counseling, psychological counseling, laboratory tests, x-rays, physical therapy, and patient focused financial counseling on paying health care charges. This study sought answers from the team about team interactions and rural health care. These included: 1) What professional and personal interactions occur during the daily functioning of the team? 2) What perceptions do team members hold about themselves as professionals; toward other members of the team; and about the care that is provided by the team? 3) What motivational factors influence these health professionals to work within a team structure; what reinforcers are evident? and 4) What data exists to measure the accessibility and quality of care provided by this rural health care team?