What impact would greater collaboration among professionals from a range of health disciplines have on Canada’s healthcare system? Would formalizing a more collaborative relationship among doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other caregivers result in more efficient patient care?
The University of Manitoba’s Dr. Ruby Grymonpré, Faculty of Pharmacy, is taking some key initial steps to find out. Grymonpré, whose area of expertise is in geriatric care, is the principal investigator in a new $1.1-million Health Canada-funded project that will study the impacts of involving caregivers from five different health disciplines in a collaborative role.
Grymonpré is inviting advanced students – pre-license health professionals – from medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and pharmacy, to participate in this educational initiative at three geriatric day hospitals in Winnipeg. Over the span of the two-year, nine-month project, as many as 60 students will have hands-on experience in collaborative patient-centred care.
Grymonpré will oversee the harmonization of student placement schedules and the formalization of the collaborative approach to patient care. Then, working as a team, the health professional students will practice a model called comprehensive geriatric assessment to develop a care plan. Inherent in this approach is a view that the patient is not simply a recipient of care, but is an integral part of a team that must work together.
“The interprofessional team meets and identifies issues – medical issues, drug issues, other issues – and proposes a plan to then be discussed with the client, who needs to be on-board with the care plan,” said Grymonpré.
“The idea is that it’s client-centred care. There’s a whole team that works together.”
According to Grymonpré, the schedules of health providers from different disciplines do naturally overlap, although each practitioner traditionally fulfills a predefined role that often leaves little room for formal collaboration. Even within the healthcare field, Grymonpré says, there can be little knowledge of what care providers in other disciplines actually do.
Ideally, formalizing a team approach would help eliminate knowledge gaps and would better allow the specific strengths or expertise of each team member to be most effectively applied. Because the team develops a care plan in partnership, and meets to ensure the goals identified in the care plan are being reached, the collaborative approach can ensure the spectrum of client needs are being addressed.
Grymonpré has involved faculty “champions” from each of the five identified healthcare disciplines. These faculty members are already proponents or advocates of interprofessional collaborative care, and were invited to assist in the development and implementation the program.
The success of the initiative (which is more formally referred to as interprofessional education for collaborative patient-centred practice, or IECPCP) will be appraised via pre- and post-program surveys, and other evaluative measures, with stakeholders in each area of the project. A steering committee that includes faculty deans or their designates, senior administrators at each of the three participating hospitals, health authority officials, student learners and seniors will meet quarterly to receive progress reports and provide feedback.
Whether the project is deemed successful and endorsed is partly contingent on whether it proves to be financially sustainable. Grymonpré anticipates the collaborative approach to patient care developed in the project shouldn’t cost more than existing health care delivery methods. The approach, she points out, doesn’t call for more labour hours invested in patient care, but rather a different, more collaborative approach using existing resources.
Health Canada has identified collaborative patient-centred practice as a key pillar in the future of healthcare in Canada, says Grymonpré. Hers is one of a series of projects across the country to which Health Canada has contributed some $13 million to date, under the umbrella of interprofessional education for patient-centred practice.
Grymonpré’s research will be headquartered at Winnipeg’s Riverview Health Centre, which she acknowledges as a generous supporter of the initiative, through the project’s completion in the spring of 2008.
For more information on the project, phone 204-478-6895, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.