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The future of medical practices

More and more often, physicians are joining forces in multidisciplinary practices, offering new opportunities to doctors, therapists and patients alike.

Text: Helwi Braunmiller, photo: Kostas Maros

The view from the 13th floor out over Zurich-Oerlikon and the Alps is fantastic. Light floods the rooms through floor-to-ceiling windows. Everything is new, modern and spacious in the Andreasturm, just a stone’s throw from Oerlikon railway station. There are rows of treatment rooms. Since the end of 2018, family doctors have been practicing here alongside dermatologists, psychotherapists alongside orthopaedic specialists, alternative medicine physicians alongside gynaecologists, and a team of physiotherapists is based one floor up.

Medical centres that combine many disciplines under one roof are on the rise, especially in cities such as Zurich, Basel, Bern and Geneva. These kinds of multidisciplinary practices are particularly popular among young doctors. In fact, there was a 20% increase in multidisciplinary practices throughout Switzerland between 2011 and 2014.

Save time and money as a team

For doctors and therapists, this paves the way for very interactive working practices. “For example, a colleague in the physiotherapy team may notice a suspicious mole on a patient. She can then get the patient’s consent to call me so that I can take a quick look,” says Oliver Das, dermatologist at the Medbase health centre in the Andreasturm. This saves time and money. “In 90% of cases, I’m able to take on the patient straight away – a classic win-win situation.”

People meet and get to know one another, thanks in no small part to the shared break room, which the doctors and therapists share in the same way as the treatment rooms and associated infrastructure. On the one hand, this ensures that all the instruments, such as ultrasound and x-ray machines, are used to their full capacity, while on the other, it makes part-time work possible – something that was previously impossible for doctors in particular. “Experienced colleagues with families are particularly keen to work part-time, and this way we don’t have to do without their expertise,” says Gaby Mischler, deputy head of physiotherapy and complementary medicine at the Medbase health centre in Oerlikon.

“We have standardised rooms where everything is always in the same place.”

In return for flexible working hours, anyone working in a multidisciplinary health centre must be prepared to compromise, for example when it comes to deciding which medicines really need to be stocked in the small pharmacy. And strict rules have to be followed in the rooms shared by doctors and therapists. “We have standardised rooms where everything is always in the same place,” explains Gaby Mischler. There’s no room for personal photos on the walls or your favourite sculpture on the table. Fehlanzeige. “That’s something I do miss, I prefer a personal touch,” admits Oliver Das. “Nonetheless, I believe that the number of centres will continue to increase, especially in cities.”