Ensuring seamless, multidisciplinary care for patients from pre-injury wellness to diagnosis all the way through rehabilitation and healing is the mission of Mass General Brigham’s new integrated sports medicine program.
“We’re reorienting our entire approach to sports medicine,” said Christian Lattermann, MD, director of research at Mass General Brigham Sports Medicine and chief of Sports Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “We’re moving away from a siloed, provider-accommodative approach and toward a collaborative, patient-accommodative approach that goes beyond treating injuries to include things like wellness and injury prevention. The idea is to be more proactive rather than waiting for patients to come to us after they’ve already had overuse injuries or other injuries.”
The new Sports Medicine program brings together more than 200 specialized physicians and surgeons along with hundreds of allied health care professionals. Patients can now access knee, shoulder, hip, hand and arm, and foot and ankle specialists from across the system through one centralized point of contact. Services are available at 19 Mass General Brigham sites in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Coordinated Care for Injury Prevention and Treatment
Specialists from the Sports Medicine program are working together to coordinate all aspects of injury prevention and treatment, including nutrition, performance improvement, surgery and rehabilitation. In a break from past practice, cross-referrals within the Mass General Brigham network are both encouraged and facilitated.
As Dr. Lattermann explained, Sports Medicine now routinely refers patients to more convenient locations to do their physical therapy.
“While I would have previously kept my patient in the Brigham system, we now refer to Massachusetts General Hospital, North Shore Center for Outpatient Care, Cooley Dickinson Health Care or Wentworth-Douglass Hospital to accommodate the patient better,” he said. “By tearing down walls between institutions, we’re adopting a much more patient-friendly orientation. Patients have shorter waits and get the treatment they need closer to home, so we’re really aiming to improve the patient experience. We’ve also incorporated virtual care for the first time.”
One of Sports Medicine’s top priorities was to create a new call center system to get patients access to treatment within 48 hours — a significant reduction from the prior standard of two weeks or more.
“We had to figure out how to integrate our services, such as physical therapy, across several institutions, and that required retraining a lot of physical therapists,” Dr. Lattermann said. “Essentially, we reconfigured the entire infrastructure needed to effectively run a division between three separate institutions. We had to do a huge amount of work in the background to even get this started.”
Leading Sports Medicine Research to Advance Patient Care
Mass General Brigham sports medicine specialists pioneer research breakthroughs to drive medical innovation and improve patient outcomes. To enhance this work, the Sports Medicine team is setting up its clinic space with research in mind.
Equipment like cell analysis machines and minus 80 freezers will allow clinicians to examine and monitor patients in a way that facilitates the translation of research findings into the clinic and the collection of outcomes data and biologic samples that inform therapeutic decisions.
“Mass General Brigham is one of the foremost research institutions,” Dr. Lattermann said. “Our emphasis going forward in Sports Medicine will be to align our approach to patient care based upon basic and clinical science. That’s what we do, and that’s what we’re good at.”
To refer a patient to Mass General Brigham Sports Medicine, please call 617-726-0500.