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Pitt, UPMC host global conference on value of team medicine

| Thursday, June 5, 2014, 11:22 p.m.

It was long thought that the best way to improve the lives of patients with colorectal cancer was to find great surgeons, a British health care expert said.

But it takes a group of medical professionals in various fields — armed with education, technology and communication skills — working together to be successful, said Sir David Nicholson, former chief executive officer of Britain's National Health Service.

“So getting that right is literally, I think, a matter of life or death,” he said.

Inter-professional health care, or team-based care delivery, will be the focus of All Together Better Health VII — the seventh international conference on inter-professional practice and education from Friday to Sunday at the University of Pittsburgh.

Pitt and UPMC are hosting the first U.S. visit of the biennial global health care conference, which more than 1,000 educators, medical professionals, policy makers and executives from 27 countries plan to attend.

More than 500 research projects will be presented.

“I think given all of the changes that we're seeing in health care reform and the economic pressures on our health care delivery system ... that it is an important time to look at inter-professional and team-based care delivery and how we might embrace some of the efficiencies to both improve outcomes and lower costs,” said Everette James, director of Pitt Health Policy Institute.

All participating countries have some positive aspects about delivering care from which others could learn, said James, a former Pennsylvania secretary of health.

Examples of best practices are Australia's ability to deliver multi-professional care to very disparate populations; China's investment in information technology to enable primary care doctors to have updated patient information; and the United Kingdom's National Health Service's integration of services, said Nicholson, an adjunct professor of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London.

Pitt and UPMC have the benefit of multidisciplinary education with doctors, pharmacists, physical therapists and other fields, he said.

“These are massive strengths, I think, for the system here,” said Nicholson, who will give the keynote address at the conference on Friday.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or

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