What is a Multi-Disciplinary Response Team (MDRT)?

In community healthcare, it’s efficient for various care providers to respond to a call together. This approach is known as a multi-disciplinary response team or MDRT. This article will discuss how the MDRT functions and the unique benefits they offer.

An Multi-Disciplinary Response Team or MDRT is an emergency response strategy that uses personnel from different programs such as community paramedics, social workers, and mental health professionals to increase care for those that are in need through 911 calls, non-emergency calls, or referrals by citizens.

An MDRT can provide substantial help to community programs that have experienced frustrations. This includes frustration with an improper response, poor triage, or repeat calls. The MDRT ensures that patients get to the right place at the right time – and that the right provider is delivering care.

Let’s talk about some of the ways MDRTs function. We’ll also talk about the quantitative benefits that these programs provide. Finally, we’ll discuss several ways to build an effective MDRT program.

How Does a Multi-Disciplinary Response Team Actually Work?

A Multi-Disciplinary Response team is precisely what it says it is: it comprises multiple individuals across different disciplines. Each of these providers on the team will have different expertise, each filling an important role. An MDRT is sort of like the Avengers, just in the community.

Let’s talk about the common members to better understand the MDRT and how it works. This way, you can better understand a multi-disciplinary approach’s focus and mission.

Who works in a multi-disciplinary response team:

  • Community paramedics
  • Social Workers
  • Mental Health Professionals

These are not the only people who work with MDRT. You will also see physicians, firefighters, police officers, nurses, and rehabilitation professionals. Anyone who plays a role in community health, whether a care provider or an administrator, has a role in MDRT programs.

Let’s talk more about these participants and why they are essential.

Community Paramedics in Multi-Disciplinary Response Teams

Community paramedics are a key component of multi-disciplinary response teams, as they bring useful medical skills and assessment abilities. How does the community paramedic operate within the team?

There might be a call for a patient having a psychological breakdown. In this instance, the mental health provider might assume the lead; however, upon arriving at the incident, it is discovered that the patient’s episode is a medication-induced emergency.

At that time, the paramedic will take steps to ensure that the patient is medically stable, providing needed life support. After the patient has been medically cleared, the mental health provider can perform a more thorough, more accurate psychological exam.

This same level of teamwork is used with paramedics, mental health providers, and social workers – let’s talk about that.

Social Workers in Multi-Disciplinary Response Teams

Social workers are also emerging as vital pieces of the out-of-hospital puzzle. As has been noted by many in the community, law enforcement has been forced to take on social work-type roles; however, this is not what most law enforcement officers are trained for.

As such, both sides agree that law enforcement should create a path for social workers whenever possible. Let’s look at an example of how social workers operate.

Let’s continue with our last section, which is about psychiatric patients. Perhaps, after the paramedic has stabilized the patient and the mental health provider has made their assessment, the social worker will make their psychosocial assessment.

In this assessment, the social worker will consider more than just the physical or the psychological – they will also consider the patient’s environment. Does the patient have easy access to care? Is the patient in a difficult family situation? Are they generally living a healthy life?

These are all critical questions. Because if the patient doesn’t have a stable life at home, it will be difficult for them to maintain progress after being treated.

Now, let’s talk about the mental health provider’s role in multi-disciplinary response teams.

Mental Health Professionals in Multi-Disciplinary Response Teams

Another huge benefit to implementing MDRT programs is the ability to have mobile mental health resources. Mental health providers offer many benefits. Let’s touch on two of the main ones.

Aside from the fact that mental health providers are more readily available – which is fantastic – their presence allows for direct admission into mental health facilities (if needed), and it helps reduce law enforcement encounters with mental health patients.

As it stands, there are many areas where a person struggling with mental health would need to be seen in the ER before they could be admitted to a facility. However, this is more complicated than it seems – often, the patient first calls 911, triggering an ambulance and PD.

While this level of response is sometimes necessary, it’s often too much. Furthermore, many mental health patients prefer to avoid contact with the police.

The multi-disciplinary response team can eliminate many of these issues, with mental health teams playing a crucial role.

Now, let’s discuss the benefits of an MDRT program in your community.

The Benefits of Having a Multi-Disciplinary Response Team in Your Community  

We’ve already touched on several of these points briefly, but let’s talk about some of the benefits of an MDRT. As you’ll see, these programs don’t operate on an island. Instead, MDR teams working within a more extensive mobile integrated health program will make positive tidal waves in a community.

Here are a few of the benefits of the MDRT:

  1. Law enforcement officers are less tied up on non-criminal calls: Many times, law enforcement officers are called to “disorderly” patients. When they arrive, they often find that the patient is not presenting a real criminal threat – they need medical care. In some areas, police are tied up for hours responding to mental health calls that they aren’t equipped to treat. MDR teams can prevent this.
  • Fewer repetitive and costly 911 calls for EMS: EMS resources are often expended on repetitive 911 calls. In many areas, a tiny portion of the population will make up most of the 911 calls. An MDR team gives MIH-CP programs the resources they need to help those super-utilizers and reduce these costly calls.
  • Mental health patients receive the care they need: There has been an uptick in mental health crises in recent times. Unfortunately, the current healthcare infrastructure has struggled to adapt to the needs. When mental health professionals work as part of an MDR team, they can ensure that patients receive rapid and adequate mental healthcare.
  • Less crowding in the ER: If your area has experienced ER crowding, an MDR team can make a real difference. Often, the ER is crowded with patients who would be better treated elsewhere (rehab centers, urgent care, mental health clinics). The MDRT helps triage these patients, reducing bottlenecking at the ER.

These are just a few of the ways MDRTs help the community. These teams can do much more, like assisting patients in managing chronic ailments and reaching out to people experiencing homelessness – the opportunities are endless for the creative and dedicated community.

Before we go, let’s talk about things you can do to improve (or start) an MDRT.

How to Improve Your MDRT with Better Communication and Technology

The MDRT doesn’t just happen by snapping your fingers. You must ensure you have the proper infrastructure to handle the program. What are we talking about? Let’s talk about three things that will improve your MDRT.

How to improve and effectively implement an MDR team:

  • Perform a needs assessment: First, you need to perform a needs assessment to determine the best providers on the team. You might have more chronic ailments in some areas, so a nurse would be a great addition. In other areas, you may have more substance abuse, so a rehab professional might be a good idea.
  • Regular stakeholder meetings: You need to set up regular meetings to ensure that the program meets the needs of the people in the community. Good stakeholder meetings act like a compass – they ensure you never veer too far off course.
  • Good communication and documentation platform: With MDR teams, you’ll have multiple programs coming together. In these programs, you’ll need a way of communicating, even when the other department doesn’t share your software. A platform like Julota is something to consider, as they offer interoperable, cloud-based software that different agencies can use for communication.

All right, let’s wrap everything up.

Final Words: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach for Better Mobile Integrated Healthcare

With the backing of a dedicated community, a Multi-Disciplinary Response Team can improve patient outcomes and reduce providers’ frustrations. What makes the MDRT so effective? It’s a combination of providers from different professions. This combination of resources creates a synergy, where the sum of the providers’ efforts is greater than their parts.

MDRT teams can reduce frequent 911 calls from super-utilizers, improve the response to patients with mental health struggles, and help providers – law enforcement, EMS, and Fire – feel like they have more resources in their backpacks to help people.

Contact Julota to see how integrated software can bring an MDRT together. While these community teams usually work for different agencies, Julota’s safe and efficient software makes everyone feel like they’re on the same team.