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.
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.
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
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.
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
- Research about best practices and the state of collaborative care
in Canada; and
- Tools to help primary health care providers work together more
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.