An interdisciplinary approach to disease management can optimize patient care and improve treatment-related outcomes, according to an editorial published in JAMA Surgery.

Regardless of disease type, patients who are referred to physicians with a specific specialty may experience bias toward that specialty. In this article, investigators from Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, California, explain the numerous benefits associated with an interdisciplinary, disease-specific approach to patient care.

For instance, a patient with heart disease referred to an interventional cardiologist might undergo an unnecessary procedure that could result in a poor outcome. Ideally, an interdisciplinary approach involves multiple physicians with different specialties who can discuss varying disease and treatment perspectives, reduce specialty bias, and facilitate the choice of the most appropriate therapy.

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A tumor board review, which is mandated in cancer centers, is one type of interdisciplinary care measure. Multiple specialists review a case to choose the most appropriate form of care and to prevent redundancies in treatment. Additionally, unnecessary interventions are reduced, resulting in a better quality of life for the patient.

Additionally, reducing the burden of unnecessary care creates value-driven care, which may ultimately lower healthcare costs. According to the investigators, care must shift to focus on the patients rather than on the availability of the physicians.

Although the commitments associated with this strategy may decrease physicians’ time available for competing responsibilities, the investigators suggest that the long-term benefits of an interdisciplinary management strategy exceed the possible limitations.

The use of interdisciplinary peer review may also improve “innovation by bolstering support for new and often risky approaches to therapy that may be life-saving for those patients with few other options.”


Nurok M, Gewertz B. Interdisciplinary disease-based peer review: moving quality assurance into the future [published online October 25, 2017]. JAMA Surg. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2017.3809