multidisciplinary medicine aha media

As a Web writer for major medical institutions, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve typed the world multidisciplinary, as well as its very distant cousin, interdisciplinary. Multidisciplinary is what healthcare practitioners in highly specialized fields think is the buzz word of the moment. All my clients tell me they are special because this is the type of medicine they practice. But again, this is the sea of sameness, where everyone uses the same messaging.

Multidisciplinary means that different specialists consult on the same case, determining the best course of treatment, based on their area of knowledge. By getting all the experts in the room and on the same page, patients will have better outcomes.

Clearly this is true. The question is: do patients really care? I think most gloss right over the word. It’s big, it has lots of syllables and what does it really mean anyway?

Instead of constantly writing about multidisciplinary medicine, SHOW what it does and how it really can affect patient care and outcomes. Here are a couple of examples of how to avoid the sea of sameness when it comes to this topic in your marketing content:

  1. Patient testimonials: let patients describe what it was like to be treated by so many different specialists who were in constant contact with each other. For example, a patient who had melanoma on her nose could talk about how her surgery was planned with the facial plastics reconstructive surgeon in the room. Her return to her natural appearance was faster, because the surgeons and dermatologists worked together.
  2. Conferences: some hospitals run multidisciplinary conferences with the newly diagnosed. The patient comes to a conference room, where all the specialists are gathered around the table and meets every health professional on her team: doctors, nutritionists, psychologists, nurses, etc. Bringing a loved one and a tape recorder is recommended so all information is captured. Patients tend to be overwhelmed by the extraordinary amount of information they need to remember when they are being treated for cancer, so extra memory is helpful. During the conference, all the specialists discuss their points of view about the cancer and decide on the best course of treatment and management of the disease.
  3. Patient navigators: someone needs to coordinate all this interdiscipline. Some hospitals have patient navigators, who guide patients through the entire process of treatment. Talking about this in your content convinces your patient his needs will be met and individualized.
  4. Pictures: these are often forgotten, but showing all the different doctors around a table is a BIG message. You have to be careful, though, because it could alarm patients SO many doctors are needed to treat their cancer. A group shot of no more than 10 should be fine.
  5. Step-by-step process guides: if you are running a multidisciplinary clinic, then show your patients in a flow chart what they can expect. First, you will see the surgeon->then you will see the medical oncologist-> then you will see the pain management specialist. People like charts for this kind of thing because it organizes the information visually. For an example, see the picture at the top of this blog post.

So use the word, multidisciplinary, by all means. But don’t think your patients are going to care if they don’t truly understand how it will affect their care.

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