As the saying goes, two heads are better than one. And three heads? Even better.
With the Tryon Medical Partners’ care team approach, instead of relying on just one clinician to provide your care, you can have a whole team behind you. One of these Tryon care teams includes Dr. Meredith Faulkner (pictured above left), Dr. Ryan Shelton (center) and PA Tristan Lunde (right). They provide guidance on what a care team approach is and how you might be able to benefit.
What is the care team approach?
The care team approach is a system in which clinicians (often physicians and nurse practitioners or physician’s assistants) team up to provide an experienced and expanded practice. Each individual clinician has their own set of patients that also fall under the umbrella care of the greater team.
“Charlotte is growing so rapidly that we want to make sure we can meet the needs of more and more patients,” Dr. Faulkner shares. “Creating a smaller care team can help meet this demand in a way that works for patients and clinicians alike.”
Benefit #1: Scheduling flexibility.
One of the most important benefits for patients is the increased access they have to a member of their care team. When scheduling an appointment, patients will be able to choose from three clinicians’ schedules, rather than just one. This will allow patients more options as to when they can come in while always seeing a familiar face. This approach is designed to allow more opportunity for those who can only come in at specific times of the day or week, those who may want to book longer appointments, or those who want to meet with their clinician virtually.
“For instance, imagine if I’m booked up all week and can’t take any appointments,” Dr. Shelton explains. “Because I’m on a care team, my patients would be able to find a free slot at a time that works for them with another member of the team – so we’re able to meet our patients’ needs on their timelines more consistently.”
Benefit #2: The ability to work with the clinician you choose.
Every member of the care team is experienced and has worked with their own set of patients for at least nine years. They are all trained to provide the same quality of care, but may have distinct strengths. The care team approach allows the patient to choose which clinicians to go to for specific issues.
“For instance, if a patient wanted to see their doctor about a gynecological issue and wanted to see a female clinician, they could,” PA Lunde points out. “Even if their typical clinician is Dr. Shelton, Dr. Faulkner or I could provide assistance with gynecology-specific issues.”
Benefit #3: Having a panel of experts rather than just one.
Care teams function so that all members of the team are constantly kept in the loop. So even if a patient comes in to see only one member of the team, the entire team will be briefed on that visit and any next steps. This means that instead of one clinician reviewing a patient’s health problem, three separate clinicians will review and weigh in. This teamwork ensures the highest quality care.
“Even if my patients only saw PA Lunde, it would be as if they saw me too.” Dr. Shelton emphasizes. “We all review each others’ notes and before we see the patient we’ll know exactly what happened in the last appointment. We work together as if we were one clinician.”
Benefit #4: Seeing a familiar face in an emergency.
If you’re experiencing a healthcare emergency, the last thing you want is for your doctor’s schedule to be booked up, or for them to be unavailable. Then, in a moment that already feels scary and vulnerable, you’re seeing a new and unfamiliar doctor who may not know your medical history. The care team approach protects against this – because you have an entire care team behind you, the likelihood of receiving treatment and guidance from a familiar face increases exponentially.
“We want to be there for our patients when they need us most,” Dr. Faulkner notes. “Because we can’t be in the office all the time, the care team ensures our patients can have some continuity in terms of who they see, even in an emergency. The care team provides dedicated care and the trust of someone who knows their history.”