Enhancing Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Primary Health Care Initiative

Change Management

Change and the EICP Initiative

Since it is the overall objective of the Enhancing Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Primary Health Care (EICP) Initiative to encourage more collaboration amongst primary health care providers, the Initiative will devote significant resources to helping professionals understand what collaboration means for them, in personal terms.  And so, as part of its consultation efforts, the EICP will begin to expose individual professionals, regulators, government and health association representatives to the real challenges and benefits of change.

On one level the EICP's principles and framework will spell out options and ideas that could be useful in various practice settings across Canada. The EICP principles and framework will help to better define the relationships between clients/patients and various practitioners, as well as how health care integrates with other elements of the health system.

On another level, the EICP team hopes the Initiative will begin to inspire real change at the grassroots and system-wide levels.  Until individual professionals decide to read a bit more, talk to some colleagues and �test drive� the collaboration concept, true interdisciplinary collaboration won't have the momentum required to create change in the health system.  Systemic change is also required to support the adjustments and transitions that individual (and groups of) practitioners are making.  The goal is to have real people having real experiences with collaboration, in a supportive environment.

It is anticipated that an awareness of the need for change will develop within the primary health care community over the course of the EICP Initiative.  Through its work, the EICP Initiative will present viable options and begin to create a positive perception of collaboration.  All this is groundwork for a time when the health care community will determine how committed it is to really moving forward with change.

The EICP Approach to Change

The focus on change will be apparent in nearly all of the EICP Initiative's endeavours. The EICP team has developed its own change process model, inspired by some of North American's leading change practitioners, primarily those who see change and learning as comparable processes. Change specialists such as Anthony Dibella and J. Gould who are engaged by the U.S. Healthcare Forum and Daryl Connors (Leading on the Edge of Chaos, 1998), view change as a developmental or evolutionary process. The EICP model borrows from other successful change approaches used in other health and non-health environments too. Specific strategies, tools and techniques will be developed by staff to support the change elements of the EICP's ongoing work.

Key EICP change activities include:

  • A survey of stakeholders will be conducted to establish a benchmark for their initial readiness for change.

  • A comparative literature review about experiences in various jurisdictions with interdisciplinary collaboration.  (NB: This review offered considerable support in the development of a first approximation of the principles and framework that will eventually be the focus of the EICP Initiative.  The review also helped frame the workplan for the Initiative).

  • Facilitated consultations with stakeholder groups including health care providers, patients, government and association representatives.

As various versions of the principles and framework are presented and tested with stakeholder groups, the EICP Initiative will continue to keep the spotlight on change and the �human side� of the change process.  The Initiative will help stakeholders identify the critical �change indicators�, or signals, that will influence the primary health care practitioner to shift from the status quo to a new paradigm of care based on interdisciplinary collaboration.

 The Initiative hopes to encourage a leadership culture among practitioners and their professional associations, with a view to creating a more determined, shared vision of the change process.  That vision includes recognition of individual roles and responsibilities, and respect for professional, autonomous clinical decision-making.  

Change is very personal and building consensus takes time. Change is both a collective and personal process that fundamentally is about sharing information and learning. The EICP Initiative hopes to leave a legacy of solid research, a sturdy framework for structural and personal change, and a positive learning environment in the primary health care community.  All that has to happen next is change.

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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.

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