Collaborative Practice within Communities

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” - Phil Jackson


Two roughly sketched hands shaking each other.
Image source: Storyblocks

Healthcare, at its finest, is a team sport. While a collaborative, team-based approach to healthcare has been around for much longer, it took off at the turn of the 21st century and has become increasingly crucial in the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare.1

Collaborative practice emphasizes shared decision-making and collective problem-solving, as well as the pooling of resources, knowledge, and expertise to address complex challenges or tasks. One study published in the Journal of Interprofessional Care demonstrated that by breaking down traditional barriers across the healthcare disciplines, professionals can foster open communication, share insights, and provide more effective care.2

As discussed in this blog post, successful engagement in collaborative practice requires collaboration at numerous levels including across disciplines, within teams, in partnership with the community, and with the patient at the center of their own care.

Community Health

Collaboration at the community level includes improving health outcomes, especially for underserved populations. One intervention that has shown promise in promoting interprofessional teamwork at the community level is the use of Community Health Workers (CHWs).3 The role of CHWs is to develop strong, trusting relationships with the community in order to facilitate access to and collaboration across healthcare and social services.4 To advance health equity and improve outcomes for all communities, it is critical to advocate for CHWs and other means that meet individuals where they are.

Team-Based Approaches

Collaborative practice involves collaboration across disciplines and within teams. Team-based approaches have been shown to be particularly effective in the management of complex medical cases. Research by Bodenheimer et al., published in JAMA, emphasizes the positive impact of team-based care on chronic disease management and prevention.5 Teams that represent a diversity of perspectives and skills are equipped to address all of patients’ needs more comprehensively, ensuring a holistic approach to healthcare.

Patient-Centered Collaborative Care

Collaborative practices extend beyond healthcare professionals and can also involve patients as active participants in their care. Patient-centered collaborative care emphasizes involving individuals in decision-making processes regarding their treatment plans. Adoption of shared decision-making (SDM) has been shown to improve patient outcomes in both direct and indirect ways.6 SDM has been shown to increase patient satisfaction and trust, increase adherence to treatment recommendations, and increase health outcomes and quality of life.7 This approach also fosters a sense of empowerment among patients, making them active participants in their health journey and recovery.  

Why is Collaborative Practice Important?

Collaborative practices are instrumental in delivering high-quality, patient-centered care. In the dynamic and ever-evolving healthcare professions, fostering a culture of collaboration is important to effectively address the increasingly complex and diverse needs of patients. Collaborative approaches not only enhance the overall efficiency of healthcare but contribute to the effectiveness of patient care. By embracing collaborative practices, healthcare professionals can collectively enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery, ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes.


  1. Green, B., Johnson, C. (2015). Interprofessional collaboration in research, education, and clinical practice: working together for a better futureJ Chiropr Educ, 29(1): 1-10. 
  2. Jones, M., Higgs, J., & De Angelis, C. (2019). The impact of interdisciplinary collaboration on the clinical reasoning and decision-making of hospital clinicians. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 33(2), 169-178.
  3. Franklin, C. M., Bernhardt, J. M., Lopez, R. P., Long-Middleton, E. R., & Davis, S. (2015). Interprofessional teamwork and collaboration between community health workers and healthcare teams: an integrative reviewHealth services research and managerial epidemiology2, 2333392815573312.
  4. Minnesota Department of Health Office of Rural Health and Primary Care (2016). Community Health Worker Toolkit. Minnesota Department of Health.
  5. Bodenheimer, T., & Sinsky, C. (2014). From triple to quadruple aim: care of the patient requires care of the providerThe Annals of Family Medicine12(6), 573-576.
  6. Légaré, F., Stacey, D., Turcotte, S., Cossi, M. J., Kryworuchko, J., Graham, I. D., ... & Donner‐Banzhoff, N. (2014). Interventions for improving the adoption of shared decision making by healthcare professionalsCochrane database of systematic reviews, (9).
  7. Shay, L. A., & Lafata, J. E. (2015). Where is the evidence? A systematic review of shared decision making and patient outcomesMedical Decision Making35(1), 114-131.
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