The Team Approach is Best for IBS patients

The Beatles created beautiful music.  John and Paul complimented each other bringing together their different styles of music to create a balance of introspection and melody. Individually, each Beatle, Ringo, Paul, John and George were great musicians in their own right, but I think it is safe to say, their collaborative work exceeded their solo work.

I am a firm believer that in health care, the best outcomes are those that are team driven. This is particularly true in complex medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). collaborative careHealthcare providers often weigh in on a patient’s case from their own personal lens and expertise. As diet has been shown in research studies to help manage symptoms of IBS with better efficacy than most drugs on the market for this condition, having a dietitian working with IBS patients is paramount! Over-restricting the diet is a common occurrence in IBS patients as it can be difficult to identify personal dietary triggers, leading to potential nutritional deficiencies. There is so much misinformation on the internet, it can lead to utter confusion for the patient. The dietitian can help circumvent these issues and help maximize the nutritional well-being of the IBS patient.  In my opinion,  patients with complex digestive health symptoms can often benefit from a variety of providers including: gastroenterologists, pelvic floor physical therapists, providers of gut directed hypnosis, urogynecologists, allergists or immunologists, and registered dietitians to create a comprehensive treatment plan.  All healthcare providers can learn from one another and together, are able to develop a comprehensive treatment plan for the best patient care.

Do you have an IBS dream team?

I am hopeful that team driven centers will be the new approach for treatment for irritable bowel syndrome, a complex heterogenous disorder.  Each patient with IBS needs to be evaluated on an individual basis as no two are alike.

A big advantage of having a dietitian involved in patient care, aside from their nutritional and medical expertise, is that their appointment time is generally a full hour or more for the initial assessment. Having this extra time with the dietitian allows the patient the time to share a very detailed summary of their symptoms. In contrast to the doctor’s limited patient time, the dietitian’s hour long visit might allow for uncovering previously unknown key pieces of the patient’s health care puzzle. I enjoy working closely with the gastroenterologist to weigh in on the patient’s case and come up with comprehensive solutions or ideas.

My hope for IBS sufferers… is that you have the opportunity to put together a collaborative team to help guide you on your path to wellness.

If you are a dietitian knowledgeable in the low FODMAP diet and digestive health be sure to reach out to your local gastroenterologists to let them know about your services. If you are a gastroenterologist, do your patients a favor and provide them a referral to a dietitian skilled in digestive health. And if you are a patient, find a skilled digestive health dietitian and gastroenterologist that work collaboratively so that you may have a comprehensive approach to getting your IBS under control.

Dr. Bill Chey of University of Michigan spoke recently at the American College of Gastroenterology’s annual conference in Hawaii speaking about role of diet in IBS and the dietitian in the treatment team.

Click here to listen.