The following article features coverage from the 2017 Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA) Annual Conference in Anaheim, California. Click here to read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s conference coverage.

Interprofessional practice provides benefits to patients, team members, and the health care system, by working collaboratively to support and assist each other.

At the 2017 Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA) Annual Conference, Rich Tower, MD, MS, discussed the benefits of an interprofessional team, which include improvements in patient outcomes, decreases in medication errors and adverse effects, and new knowledge and skills for providers.1

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An interprofessional team is defined as health care providers from different professional backgrounds who provide comprehensive, high-quality care for patients, caregivers, and communities. This is in contrast to multidisciplinary practice, in which multiple individuals from different professions perform their duties in isolation.

“The key difference between interprofessional practice and multidisciplinary practice is shared decision-making,” according to Dr Tower.

Developing a successful interprofessional team is dependent on 5 core values, according to Kate E. Reichert, PharmD, BCPPS, a clinical pharmacy specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. These include sensitivity to operations, commitment to resilience, deference to expertise, reluctance to simplify, and preoccupation with failure.

“Team members must exhibit these behaviors consistently and effectively while functioning under a high level of stress,” Dr Reichert said.

To achieve these principles, team members must communicate and engage in the exchange of information so that each member is aware of the “big picture.”

Collaboration is important, particularly to provide assistance to other members, monitor each other’s performance, and provide support if an error occurs. The value of expertise must be recognized, even if the person with the most expertise is a junior practitioner.

The task environment is complex, and team members must recognize this and develop plans accordingly because members “must be prepared to identify and react to both expected and unexpected events,” Dr Reichert said.

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Multiple training tools exist that can be used to develop interprofessional teams, according to Dr Reichert. These include cross-training, perceptual contrast, team coordination, team self-correction, scenario-based, and guided-error training. There is also a system called TeamSTEPPS that provides ready-to-use materials for training, improving communication, and developing teamwork skills.

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s coverage of the 2017 Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA) Annual Conference by visiting the conference page.


  1. Tower R, Reichert RE, Adlard K. Playing on our strengths—developing interprofessional teams in pediatric hematology-oncology. Lecture presented at: 13th Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association Annual Conference; March 29-April 1, 2017; Anaheim, CA.