The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) report Best Care at Lower Cost indicates that team-based care is an important tool for making the transition to a learning health care system, and it is a major objective of the work the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation has been sponsoring for the past several years. Interprofessional education (IPE), defined by the World Health Organization as persons from two or more professions learning with, from, and about each other in order to achieve better patient outcomes, offers the potential to generate such teamwork when implemented more frequently, effectively, and, ideally, pervasively.
IPE is not a new concept. An IOM report released in 1972, Educating for the Health Team, advocated for IPE. Some institutions have attempted to incorporate IPE, but until recently it has struggled to take hold. There are a number of challenges that must be faced and several of the Macy Foundation’s grants address these. For instance, there is now a growing number of different universities — one perhaps having a medical school, another having a nursing school or a school of pharmacy—that are collaborating on IPE. The University of Colorado, University of Minnesota, and University of Washington have all launched successful school-wide approaches to IPE involving multiple health professional schools. An example of a successful IPE collaboration across different academic institutions is Hunter College’s (nursing, public health, and social work) collaboration with Weill-Cornell (medicine).