Enhancing Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Primary Health Care Initiative

About this Initiative

Between April 2004 and September 2006, the Enhancing Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Primary Health Care (EICP) Initiative was all about making a good thing better. Primary health care in Canada is the first safety net most of us encounter when we are ill or have health concerns. Making that net stronger, wider and more resilient is a goal for nearly all health professionals, governments and citizens across the country.

Under the leadership of a Steering Committee representing many of the professions on the front line of health care in Canada, the EICP Initiative set out to determine if there are ways to get more out our health care system, by encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration among health professionals. Between January 2004 and March 2006, the Initiative received a $6.5 million contribution agreement from Health Canada’s Primary Health Care Transition Fund.

In the course of its work, the EICP team asked: “How can the health system produce the best outcomes for patients/clients?” and “How do we create the conditions for health care providers to work together in the most effective and efficient way?” These are two of the most important questions facing primary health care today — and they were at the heart of the EICP Initiative.

Interdisciplinary collaboration has many faces in Canada and we have plenty of innovators in this country who are trying new arrangements that deliver significant benefits to practitioners and patients alike. Sometimes, just sharing an office encourages more collaboration. In other cases, health care teams involving physicians, nurses, social workers, physiotherapists, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, dietitians, psychologists, pharmacists and occupational therapists, coordinate their services, with the patient at the center. Sometimes collaboration is as simple as a referral from a family physician to a local social worker or speech-language pathologist. In all these arrangements, patients have access to a wider range of skills and services, and they can get to the right professional and the right services, at the right time. Collaboration also tends to allow for a greater emphasis on preventative approaches and health promotion.

Project Governance

The Steering Committee was made up of representatives from 10 national associations and one coalition. The Committee was responsible for the Initiative to Health Canada. The Conference Board of Canada managed the Initiative on behalf of the Steering Committee.

Key Features

The ultimate goal of the EICP Initiative was the development of a set of principles and a framework that would help all those involved in primary health care – practitioners, health associations, regulators, educators, governments and patients – work together in positive and constructive ways.

The EICP Initiative featured:

  • Traditional and non-traditional research projects;

  • Consultations with health care providers, patients, governments, regulators, and academics;

  • Workshops and activities focused on the “human side” of change;

  • Formal and informal outreach to national, provincial, regional and local health organizations;

  • On-line and in-person interaction, via consultations, the web site and surveys, with interested individuals, groups and organizations;

  • A focus on prevention and health promotion in the context of collaboration; and

  • Knowledge transfer, via workshops, shared tools and experiences, and the final framework and principles.

The Initiative has a detailed work plan that charted its course over its duration.

Key Deliverables

Specifically, the EICP Initiative delivered:

  • A set of principles and a framework to enhance the prospects and options for more collaborative care in settings across the country;
  • Research about best practices and the state of collaborative care in Canada; and
  • Tools to help primary health care providers work together more effectively.

Get Involved

Spotlight on Collaboration

The Collaboration Toolkit is now available for your reading pleasure. This toolkit contains our last research report—Interdisciplinary Primary Health Care: Finding the Answers—and a vast warehouse containing tools that have been designed across the country to support interdisciplinary practices. The Collaboration Toolkit offers practical tips and tools such as checklists, vision and policy statements, floor plans, transfer of function agreements, and many others. It is a must-read for anyone considering—or involved in—interdisciplinary care.

Previous Spotlights