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An Interdisciplinary Collaborative Approach to Wellness: Adding Lawyers to the Healthcare Team to Provide Integrated Care for Patients
International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society
  • Lisa Radtke Bliss, Georgia State University College of Law
  • Sylvia B. Caley, Georgia State University College of Law
  • Robert Pettignano, Georgia State University Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions
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An interdisciplinary community collaboration, the medical-legal partnership, can improve health status by providing integrated care for patients from racial or ethnic minority and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Too often, professionals care for patients in silos without a coordinated, systems approach to solving not only the medical problems but also other non-medical problems that impede access to care, reduce compliance and potentially exacerbate the original medical problem. By combining the health care expertise of hospital professionals with the legal expertise of lawyers, resulting coordinated services provide a more holistic and integrated approach to addressing the multiple determinants of health. This interdisciplinary approach improves access to care, patient health and well-being and access to financial resources for many patients. This article will explain how a collaboration among a large, urban-based health system, a state university law school, and an urban-based legal services organization created, implemented, funds, evaluates and integrates patient-focused legal services into the hospital setting. This integration can improve the health and well-being of the patients served, the revenue stream and financial well-being of the healthcare organization and create interdisciplinary educational opportunities for the professionals working within the collaboration. The article explains the process of building a collaboration, including how to evaluate institutional strengths and community resources, identify and approach partners, formalize partner roles and responsibilities, develop funding strategies, and develop a process to identify success while performing approved human subject research.

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Citation Information
Lisa Bliss, Sylvia Caley, & Robert Pettignano, An Interdisciplinary Collaborative Approach to Wellness: Adding Lawyers to the Healthcare Team to Provide Integrated Care for Patients, 1 Int'l J. Health Wellness & Soc'y 129 (2011).