What's happening with interdisciplinary teams?


Dr. Date works at a county hospital in San Mateo, California. Although interdisciplinary teams should be the way to go, sometimes a lack of resources, and people, come into play and change the dynamic.

I think the resources are not there for us to continue to use the interdisciplinary teams as much as we want to. I think it's difficult for us to try to get sometimes the interdisciplinary pain program authorized, for example in an industrial medicine setting. But I think the fact that the outcome measures that we've been using, there's been many studies that support the use of interdisciplinary teams for pain management to reduce the use of opioids and to improve function. I think those are really important factors to help support the upcoming hope of interdisciplinary teams. It is a financial issue, however.

We use the interdisciplinary team in the functional restoration programs, so they are two things that work together. It is a multidisciplinary team, but the team members have to work together very closely and the number one team member, of course, is the patient. So they'll usually involve a physician, oftentimes it involves a nurse practitioner who's very well trained in pain medicine and addiction medicine. We often use addictionologist in our team setting. We also need a physical therapist, we need of course psychology; we need pain psychiatry; we use different types of social worker services; and we use other type of what we call movement team members, such as tai chi and yoga instructors - all trained in the specific movement of patients with chronic pain. So together, they can form a team and actually help patients manage their pain with non-pharmacologic methods.


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