|Some-participants at the sixth National Cerebral Palsy Family Forum which held University of Lagos Teaching Hospital LUTH Idiaraba in Lagos|
Worried by the impact of recurring disagreement among healthcare practitioners on the sector, Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has said that collaboration among them is a must and not an option in achieving quality care for patients.
Yakasai, who is also the Chairman/CEO, Pharmaplus Nigeria Limited, made this assertion in a paper he presented at the 13th Annual Scientific Conference and All Fellows Congress of National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, tagged, ASCAF Owerri 2018, weekend.
Defining synergy as an interaction or cooperation of two or more organisations, substances, individuals or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects, Yakasai stressed the need for such cooperation in ending the differences among health sector professional.
The PSN boss explained that when healthcare practitioners with different complementary skills cooperate, come together and work together in the interest of the patients they always achieve better results for the patients.
He maintained that the outcome achieved due to synergy among the healthcare practitioners is far better than when each healthcare practitioner works in isolation.
“Even drugs work better when they work synergistically which one drug increases the other’s effectiveness. For example, the effect on the same cellular system by two different antibiotics like a penicillin damage the cell wall of gram positive bacteria and improve the penetrations of amino glycosides,” he stated.
Recall that the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), a body of all other health workers, had over the years embroiled in supremacy fight over a number of issues which brought disharmony in the health care delivery system in the country.
Pharm. Yakasai, however, spoke of what he described as silo mentality, saying that managing the ‘turf wars’ does not require tearing down the silos.
“In fact, silos have important functions. Training, practice, professional advancement and new knowledge skills occur in centres and specialised environment of the silo. Silo walls should function more as semi-permeable membrane than concrete walls so information and resources can flow to foster overall system function. It is a matter of reframing what constitutes the health system, the relationship between components, and the overall paradigm of system purpose.
“Healthcare is a team effort period. Each healthcare practitioner is like a member of the team with special role. Some team members play key roles in diagnosis while others play important roles in treatment and care for the patients. The healthcare team consists of the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, technicians and technologists, therapists and rehabilitation specialists, physician assistants, community health workers, administrative and support staff as well as people who provide emotional, social and spiritual support for the patients,” he said.
Yakasai posited that synergy among healthcare practitioners provides benefits for the patients as well as the healthcare providers.
He said that for the patients, it promotes patient-centred care. “The ultimate goal of the healthcare team is to provide patient with the best care possible. The patient is the epicentre of the healthcare. Providing best care for patient is easier to achieve when there is synergy among healthcare practitioners. Instead of having each practitioner take turns caring for them, patients have a team of experts on their side from the beginning; working together to provide the best possible care that has lasting results.”
He said that synergy also enhances better communication among healthcare practitioners as it closes the communication gap and enhances inter-professional collaboration among the healthcare team.
“Healthcare providers are able to interact on a personal level, share ideas about patient treatment, outcomes and challenges as well as work together to maintain continuity in care. Rather than relying on patient’s chart to review treatments and patient history which may not help them to make informed decision. Synergism creates a free flow of information among healthcare practitioners. This helps to avoid miscommunication about patient’s needs and missed symptoms,” he said.
Other benefits of synergy, Yakasai said, are that it enables comprehensive patient care in that it is easier to form a holistic view of patient needs and care; creates better coordination of patient treatment plans; minimises readmission rates and empowers team members and promotes team mindset.
“Working as a team, healthcare practitioners support each other, break down the silos of different disciplines and enhanc each other’s mentality,” he said.
On how to achieve better synergy among healthcare practitioners, the PSN president recommended inter-professional education.
He said medical, pharmaceutical and other healthcare students should receive training on why, what and how to work effectively as a team with other healthcare practitioners during early years in healthcare institutions. This, he said, would prime them to collaborate with other healthcare providers during their practice years.
“It is also important to create an environment where medical, pharmaceutical and other healthcare students should be engaged in learning with, from and about each other. Joint trainings, seminars, and conferences among healthcare practitioners should be organised just as it is being done in other climes (e.g. Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas (NAPPSA)/ Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA). Consider various options on how to give healthcare practitioners the collaborative training they need to care for patients as a team,” he stated.
Yakasai emphasised that healthcare practitioners should understand that they are all working together for the same goal – the ultimate wellbeing of the patient.
He said, “The bad news is for a very long time, we have not fully collaborated to achieve desired results for the patients. The question now is when are we going to realise that each of us needs all of us and all of us need each of us to take the healthcare delivery of our nation to great heights of achievements? I sincerely believe the time is NOW. We are the generation of healthcare practitioners that must change the narrative.
“The good news is that it is not too late for us as healthcare providers to join hands and work together to achieve better care for our patients knowing pretty well that anyone can be the patient. Teamwork in healthcare is vitally important to patient treatment, care and safety. Let us foster communication and create a better work environment.”