We all know the adage, “There is no ‘I’ in team,” which originated in sports, where it is important for players to come together to accomplish a goal. This also resonates with me as a wound care provider. Wound healing is a multi-step, ever-changing process that requires ongoing patient care. In a perfect world, wound care would be delivered through a collaboration among clinicians with complementary skills working across multiple disciplines. To me, wound care really is the ultimate team sport. But how do you build a winning team? In sports, there is a common goal that everyone works hard to achieve. Regardless of individual strengths and skills, all team members have a singular focus. The same is true for multidisciplinary wound care teams. Clinicians of different backgrounds, such as vascular surgeons, podiatrists, infectious disease specialists, physical therapists, internists, dermatologists, and plastic surgeons, all work together to achieve the common goal of wound healing.
In sports, some teams start out hot but fall apart midseason, perhaps because some team members lack commitment. Constant commitment is likely the most significant factor that sets a winning team apart. Multidisciplinary wound care teams also must remain committed to providing the best evidence-based care. I have seen successful wound care outcomes achieved when team members are committed to learning, obtaining a clear understanding of wound pathophysiology, and staying up to date on the latest technological advancements. Understanding how these treatment choices influence wound healing is key. Wound care is not a one-size-fits-all discipline.
Championship teams are made up of individuals who play complementary roles. The same can be said for successful multidisciplinary wound care teams. No role on the clinical team is more important than another. There is no team member solely responsible for treatment success. It is the collective roles working synergistically that lead to successful patient outcomes.
Winning teams communicate. In my experience, sharing the latest evidence on new techniques and exchanging information on compelling cases is part of this process. Ongoing communication among team members helps in formulating the best individualized treatment plans based on available information. As new therapeutic options and technological advances enter the wound care space, the importance of communication among health care providers also has increased.
Another characteristic shared by many championship teams is that the members like and respect each other. This cohesion often helps the team perform at a higher level. Scientific evidence has demonstrated that the multidisciplinary team approach to wound care has drastically improved patient outcomes.1-3 The cohesive care provided and the respect for the knowledge and skill sets of each clinician is most likely a contributing factor.
Not every clinician practicing wound care is lucky enough to be part of a multidisciplinary team, but that does not mean that you have to go it solo. I have worked in many different patient care settings, in some cases as the sole physician providing wound care. I know how it feels to manage a challenging case without a coordinated team effort; it can be a daunting task. It is from these experiences that the idea of creating a virtual multidisciplinary wound care team began. Earlier this year I diagnosed a patient as having an advanced malignant tumor. This lesion had been treated at a neighboring wound care center as a chronic ulcer. I was asked by a colleague to present the case at my hospital tumor board. This was my first time being part of such a process. Tumor boards are meetings at which oncologists in different subspecialties work together to share clinical decision-making and help to develop optimal care plans. This experience left me thinking that wound care providers could benefit from an outlet like this.
Through a concerted effort by my fellow wound care clinician Frank Aviles, PT, CWS, and with the help of Jeremy Bowden and Peter Norris at HMP Global, WoundBusters was born. This dynamic, recurring virtual event features a real-time patient case submitted by the treating clinician. Patient participation is encouraged. Frank and I facilitate a discussion of the details of the case with an expert faculty of rotating wound care clinicians. By drawing from collective experiences and evidence-based practices of the multidisciplinary WoundBusters team, we can help providers and patients dealing with hard-to-heal wounds and bust wound-healing myths. For wound care clinicians without a local team or for those interested in obtaining a different perspective on a challenging case, WoundBusters is here to help.
Our next episode will air Thursday, June 17, 2021, 5:30 to 7:30 PM EST. To register or submit a case, click this link (http://www.virtualwoundrounds.com/media/woundbusters-helping-clinicians-help-their-challenging-wound-care-patients) and follow the prompts. For more information, please contact me at Drwec@yahoo.com.