In Western society, the last century of healthcare has traditionally taken a very narrow approach to treating patients. Rather than looking at all of the factors that may be negatively impacting patients in their lives, healthcare professionals have typically focused on specific ailments and how to treat them.
Today, however, attitudes have begun to evolve substantially. Rather than taking a more restricted approach to healing, more healthcare providers are involving a varied team of professionals to help patients reach optimal health outcomes.
One type of professional whose role is becoming more valued in healthcare is the social worker. Gaining some perspective on the key functions that social workers can perform in treating patients is essential for understanding the ways that healthcare is evolving today.
Here are the benefits of a collaborative healthcare team and the role of social workers in patient care.
Why Collaborative Healthcare Teams Are Important
In healthcare, having a well-rounded team of professionals treating patients can be incredibly effective for several reasons. Lifting the curtain and peeking into the underlying factors of why a group of this nature is important is key to developing a more comprehensive understanding of healthcare.
Here is why collaborative healthcare teams are important.
Addressing Underlying Issues
While some healthcare ailments are genetic or transmitted, others are caused by certain behaviors or underlying factors. For example, if someone develops a certain type of lung disease because they smoke cigarettes regularly, it’s important to tackle this unhealthy habit in addition to the lung ailment itself.
Collaborative healthcare teams are able to dig deeper into patients’ lives and uncover underlying issues that may contribute to poor health. This is because, in addition to doctors, collaborative healthcare teams can include a range of other healthcare professionals such as exercise scientists, mental health professionals, and nutritionists.
Each of these professionals can help patients become healthier in certain aspects of their lives. In doing so, they aid patients in tackling the root causes of poor health. Ultimately, this allows patients to experience better health outcomes and live healthier lives.
Providing Comprehensive and Well-Rounded Care
As time goes on, more and more research are surfacing that shows the incredibly negative impact that stress has on health. What these findings highlight is the fact that our mental health dramatically affects our physical health. In traditional Western medicine, this idea has long been dismissed, leaving patients without mental health care when needed.
Fortunately, the rising popularity of collaborative healthcare teams is radically transforming the way that patients receive care. Rather than focusing solely on physical ailments, healthcare professionals are now aiming to treat psychological factors that may be contributing to health ailments as well.
This increasing focus on mental health factors is helping more patients achieve better health outcomes on a more consistent basis. This being the case, collaborative health teams are proving to be an effective method for providing patients with thorough and lasting care.
The Importance of Social Workers in Patient Care
In this new age of healthcare in which collaborative teams are becoming the norm, social workers play a key role in treating patients. Particularly, social workers help patients live healthier lives in a more holistic fashion by aiming to help them in a variety of ways.
Here is the importance of social workers in patient care.
Understanding Environmental Factors
In traditional healthcare practices, little to no attention was paid to the environments that patients lived in. Whether they were living with toxic people or in unhygienic conditions, it was general practice for doctors to simply treat patients’ ailments. Today, however, social workers are playing a key role in assessing patients’ environments.
With the help of a social worker, patients have the opportunity to understand when it’s time to make changes in their environments. As such, they can ultimately experience better mental and physical health, leading to significantly better health outcomes.
Helping Patients Engage in Self-Care
For many patients with severe ailments, it’s key that they engage in self-care to treat themselves after being discharged from a medical facility. Unfortunately, this can be easier said than done in many cases.
Thankfully, social workers are trained to help walk patients through the process of engaging in effective self-care. This allows patients to engage in behaviors and practices that support good health even when they’re not in contact with medical professionals. In this way, social workers play an important role in helping treat patients.
Collaborative Healthcare Teams and Social Workers are Changing Healthcare
Over the last several decades, healthcare has evolved substantially. Some key ways it has done this are through the practice of treating patients with collaborative healthcare teams and prioritizing the role social workers play in patient care.
As time goes on, it’s more than likely that these practices will become normalized in the healthcare space and, as a result, will help masses of patients achieve better health outcomes.
Image is Wikimedia Creative Commons
Guest Author Bio
With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.