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1.  Organisational development in general practice: lessons from practice and professional development plans (PPDPs) 
Background
Improving the quality and effectiveness of clinical practice is becoming a key task within all health services. Primary medical care, as organised in the UK is composed of clinicians who work in independent partnerships (general practices) that collaborate with other health care professionals. Although many practices have successfully introduced innovations, there are no organisational development structures in place that support the evolution of primary medical care towards integrated care processes. Providing incentives for attendance at passive educational events and promoting 'teamwork' without first identifying organisational priorities are interventions that have proved to be ineffective at changing clinical processes. A practice and professional development plan feasibility study was evaluated in Wales and provided the experiential basis for a summary of the lessons learnt on how best to guide organisational development systems for primary medical care.
Results
Practice and professional development plans are hybrids produced by the combination of ideas from management (the applied behavioural science of organisational development) and education (self-directed adult learning theories) and, in conceptual terms, address the lack of effectiveness of passive educational strategies by making interventions relevant to identified system wide needs. In the intervention, each practice participated in a series of multidisciplinary workshops (minimum 4) where the process outcome was the production of a practice development plan and a set of personal portfolios, and the final outcome was a realised organisational change.
It was apparent during the project that organisational admission to a process of developmental planning needed to be a stepwise process, where initial interest can lead to a fuller understanding, which subsequently develops into motivation and ownership, sufficient to complete the exercise. The advantages of introducing expert external facilitation were clear: evaluations of internal group processes were possible, strategic issues could be raised and explored and financial probity ensured. These areas are much more difficult to examine when only internal stakeholders are engaged in a planning process.
Conclusions
It is not possible to introduce practice and professional development plans (organisational development and organisational learning projects) in a publicly funded health care system without first addressing existing educational and management structures. Existing systems are based on educational credits for attendance and emerging accountability frameworks (criteria checklists) for clinical governance. Moving to systems that are less summative and more formative, and based on the philosophies of continual quality improvement, require changes to be made in the relevant support systems in order achieve policy proposals.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-1-2
PMCID: PMC29075  PMID: 11178111
2.  Health system challenges to integration of mental health delivery in primary care in Kenya- perspectives of primary care health workers 
Background
Health system weaknesses in Africa are broadly well known, constraining progress on reducing the burden of both communicable and non-communicable disease (Afr Health Monitor, Special issue, 2011, 14-24), and the key challenges in leadership, governance, health workforce, medical products, vaccines and technologies, information, finance and service delivery have been well described (Int Arch Med, 2008, 1:27). This paper uses focus group methodology to explore health worker perspectives on the challenges posed to integration of mental health into primary care by generic health system weakness.
Methods
Two ninety minute focus groups were conducted in Nyanza province, a poor agricultural region of Kenya, with 20 health workers drawn from a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the impact of a mental health training programme for primary care, 10 from the intervention group clinics where staff had received the training programme, and 10 health workers from the control group where staff had not received the training).
Results
These focus group discussions suggested that there are a number of generic health system weaknesses in Kenya which impact on the ability of health workers to care for clients with mental health problems and to implement new skills acquired during a mental health continuing professional development training programmes. These weaknesses include the medicine supply, health management information system, district level supervision to primary care clinics, the lack of attention to mental health in the national health sector targets, and especially its absence in district level targets, which results in the exclusion of mental health from such district level supervision as exists, and the lack of awareness in the district management team about mental health. The lack of mental health coverage included in HIV training courses experienced by the health workers was also striking, as was the intensive focus during district supervision on HIV to the detriment of other health issues.
Conclusion
Generic health system weaknesses in Kenya impact on efforts for horizontal integration of mental health into routine primary care practice, and greatly frustrate health worker efforts.
Improvement of medicine supplies, information systems, explicit inclusion of mental health in district level targets, management and supervision to primary care are likely to greatly improve primary care health worker effectiveness, and enable training programmes to be followed by better use in the field of newly acquired skills. A major lever for horizontal integration of mental health into the health system would be the inclusion of mental health in the national health sector reform strategy at community, primary care and district levels rather than just at the higher provincial and national levels, so that supportive supervision from the district level to primary care would become routine practice rather than very scarce activity.
Trial registration
Trial registration ISRCTN 53515024
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-368
PMCID: PMC3852631  PMID: 24079756
Health system challenges; Health sector reform; Mental health; Primary care; Kenya
3.  Lessons for a national pharmaceuticals strategy in Canada from Australia and New Zealand 
BACKGROUND:
The provincial formulary review processes in Canada lead to the slow and inequitable availability of new products. In 2004, the exploration of a national pharmaceuticals strategy (NPS) was announced. The pricing policies of New Zealand and Australia have been suggested as possible models for the NPS.
OBJECTIVE:
To compare health care indexes and health care use information from Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
METHODS:
The 2006 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development health data were used to compare health and health care indexes from Canada, Australia and New Zealand between 1994 and 2002 to 2004. The principal focus of the evaluation was cardiovascular and respiratory disorders.
RESULTS:
Although the mortality rate from acute myocardial infarction decreased in each country from 1994, it levelled off in New Zealand in 1997, 1998 and 1999. Between 1994 and 2003, the average length of hospital stay for any cause and for cardiovascular disorders was stable in Australia and Canada, but increased in New Zealand, while the rate of hospital discharges for cardiovascular diseases decreased in Canada and Australia, but strongly increased in New Zealand. Over the same period, sales of cardiovascular drugs decreased in New Zealand, while sharply increasing in Canada and Australia.
CONCLUSIONS:
Although only circumstantial, our results suggest an association between decreasing cardiovascular drug sales and markers of declining cardiovascular health in New Zealand. Careful consideration must be given to the potential consequences of any model for an NPS in Canada, as well as to opportunities provided for discussion and input from health care professionals and patients.
PMCID: PMC2651914  PMID: 17622393
Canadian health care system; Health outcomes; Health policy; Prescription drugs
4.  A self-evaluation tool for integrated care services: the Development Model for Integrated Care applied in practice 
Purpose
The purpose of the workshop is to show the applications of the Development Model for Integrated Care (DMIC) in practice. This relatively new and validated model, can be used by integrated care practices to evaluate their integrated care, to assess their phase of development and reveal improvement areas. In the workshop the results of the use of the model in three types of integrated care settings in the Netherlands will be presented. Participants are offered practical instruments based on the validated DMIC to use in their own setting and will be introduced to the webbased tool.
Context
To integrate care from multiple providers into a coherent and streamlined client-focused service, a large number of activities and agreements have to be implemented like streamlining information flows and adequate transfers of clients. In the large range of possible activities it is often not clear what essential activities are and where to start or continue. Also, knowledge about how to further develop integrated care services is needed. The Development Model for Integrated Care (DMIC), based on PhD research of Mirella Minkman, describes nine clusters containing in total 89 elements that contribute to the integration of care. The clusters are named: ‘client-centeredness’, ‘delivery system’, ‘performance management’, ‘quality of care’, ‘result-focused learning’, ‘interprofessional teamwork’, ‘roles and tasks’, ‘commitment’, and ‘transparant entrepreneurship’ [1–3]. In 2011 a new digital webbased self-evolution tool which contains the 89 elements grouped in nine clusters was developed. The DMIC also describes four phases of development [4]. The model is empirically validated in practice by assessing the relevance and implementation of the elements and development phases in 84 integrated care services in The Netherlands: in stroke, acute myocardial infarct (AMI), and dementia services. The validation studies are recently published [5, 6]. In 2011 also other integrated care services started using the model [7]. Vilans developed a digital web-based self-evaluation tool for integrated care services based on the DMIC. A palliative care network, four diabetes services, a youth care service and a network for autism used the self-evaluation tool to evaluate the development of their integrated care service. Because of its generic character, the model and tool are believed to be also interesting internationally.
Data sources
In the workshop we will present the results of three studies in integrated diabetes, youth and palliative care. The three projects consist of multiple steps, see below. Workshop participants could also work with the DMIC following these steps.
One: Preparation of the digital self-evolution tool for integrated care services
Although they are very different, the three integrated care services all wanted to gain insight in their development and improvement opportunities. We tailored the digital self-evaluation tool for each specific integrated care services, but for all the basis was the DMIC. Personal accounts for the digital DMIC self-evalution survey were sent to multiple partners working in each integrated care service (4–16 partners).
Two: Use of the online self-evaluation tool each partner of the local integrated care setting evaluated the integrated care by filling in the web-based questionnaire. The tool consists of three parts (A-C) named: general information about the integrated care practice (A); the clusters and elements of the DMIC (B); and the four phases of development (C). The respondents rated the relevance and presence of each element in their integrated care practice. Respondents were asked to estimate in which phase of development their thought their service was.
Three: Analysing the results
Advisers from Vilans, the Centre of excellence for long-term care in the Netherlands, analysed the self-evolution results in cooperation with the integrated care coordinators. The results show the total amount of implemented integrated care elements per cluster in spider graphs and the development phase as calculated by the DMIC model. Suggestions for further development of the integrated care services were analysed and reported.
Four: Discussing the implications for further development
In a workshop with the local integrated care partners the results of the self-evaluation were presented and discussed. We noticed remarkable results and highlight elements for further development. In addition, we gave advice for further development appropriate to the development phase of the integrated care service. Furthermore, the professionals prioritized the elements and decided which elements to start working on. This resulted in a (quality improvement) plan for the further development of the integrated care service.
Five: Reporting results
In a report all the results of the survey (including consensus scores) and the workshops came together. The integrated care coordinators stated that the reports really helped them to assess their improvement strategy. Also, there was insight in the development phase of their service which gave tools for further development.
Case description
The three cases presented are a palliative network, an integrated diabetes services and an integrated care network for youth in the Netherlands. The palliative care network wanted to reflect on their current development, to build a guiding framework for further development of the network. About sixteen professionals within the network worked with the digital self-evaluation tool and the DMIC: home care organisations, welfare organizations, hospice centres, health care organisations, community organizations.
For diabetes care, a Dutch health care insurance company wished to gain insight in the development of the contracted integrated care services to stimulate further development of the services. Professionals of three diabetes integrated care services were invited to fill in the digital self-evaluation tool. Of each integrated care service professionals like a general practitioner, a diabetes nurse, a medical specialist, a dietician and a podiatrist were invited. In youth care, a local health organisation wondered whether the DMIC could be helpful to visualize the results of youth integrated care services at process- and organisational level. The goal of the project was to define indicators at a process- and organisational level for youth care services based on the DMIC. In the future, these indicators might be used to evaluate youth care integrated care services and improve the quality of youth care within the Netherlands.
Conclusions and discussion
It is important for the quality of integrated care services that the involved coordinators, managers and professionals are aware of the development process of the integrated care service and that they focus on elements which can further develop and improve their integrated care. However, we noticed that integrated care services in the Netherlands experience difficulties in developing their integrated care service. It is often not clear what essential activities are to work on and how to further develop the integrated care service. A guiding framework for the development of integrated care was missing. The DMIC model has been developed for that reason and offers a useful tool for assessment, self-evaluation or improvement of integrated care services in practice. The model has been validated for AMI, dementia and stroke services. The latest new studies in diabetes, palliative care and youth care gave further insight in the generic character of the DMIC. Based on these studies it can be assumed that the DMIC can be used for multiple types of integrated care services. The model is assumed to be interesting for an international audience. Improving integrated care is a complex topic in a large number of countries; the DMIC is also based on the international literature. Dutch integrated care coordinators stated that the DMIC helped them to assess their integrated care development in practice and supported them in obtaining ideas for expanding and improving their integrated care activities.
The web-based self-evaluation tool focuses on a process- and organisational level of integrated care. Also, the self assessed development phase can be compared to the development phase as calculated by the DMIC tool. The cases showed this is fruitful input for discussions. When using the tool, the results can also be used in quality policy reports and improvement plans. The web-based tool is being tested at this moment in practice, but in San Marino we can present the latest webversion and demonstrate with a short video how to use the tool and model. During practical exercises in the workshop the participants will experience how the application of the DMIC can work for them in practice or in research. For integrated care researchers and policy makers, the DMIC questionnaire and tool is a promising method for further research and policy plans in integrated care.
PMCID: PMC3617779
development model for integrated care; development of integrated care services; implementation and improvement of integrated care; self evaluation
5.  Chronic Disease Patients’ Experiences With Accessing Health Care in Rural and Remote Areas 
Background
Rurality can contribute to the vulnerability of people with chronic diseases. Qualitative research can identify a wide range of health care access issues faced by patients living in a remote or rural setting.
Objective
To systematically review and synthesize qualitative research on the advantages and disadvantages rural patients with chronic diseases face when accessing both rural and distant care.
Data Sources
This report synthesizes 12 primary qualitative studies on the topic of access to health care for rural patients with chronic disease. Included studies were published between 2002 and 2012 and followed adult patients in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
Review Methods
Qualitative meta-synthesis was used to integrate findings across primary research studies.
Results
Three major themes were identified: geography, availability of health care professionals, and rural culture. First, geographic distance from services poses access barriers, worsened by transportation problems or weather conditions. Community supports and rurally located services can help overcome these challenges. Second, the limited availability of health care professionals (coupled with low education or lack of peer support) increases the feeling of vulnerability. When care is available locally, patients appreciate long-term relationships with individual clinicians and care personalized by familiarity with the patient as a person. Finally, patients may feel culturally marginalized in the urban health care context, especially if health literacy is low. A culture of self-reliance and community belonging in rural areas may incline patients to do without distant care and may mitigate feelings of vulnerability.
Limitations
Qualitative research findings are not intended to generalize directly to populations, although meta-synthesis across a number of qualitative studies builds an increasingly robust understanding that is more likely to be transferable. Selected studies focused on the vulnerability experiences of rural dwellers with chronic disease; findings emphasize the patient rather than the provider perspective.
Conclusions
This study corroborates previous knowledge and concerns about access issues in rural and remote areas, such as geographical distance and shortage of health care professionals and services. Unhealthy behaviours and reduced willingness to seek care increase patients’ vulnerability. Patients’ perspectives also highlight rural culture’s potential to either exacerbate or mitigate access issues.
Plain Language Summary
People who live in a rural area may feel more vulnerable—that is, more easily harmed by their health problems or experiences with the health care system. Qualitative research looks at these experiences from the patient’s point of view. We found 3 broad concerns in the studies we looked at. The first was geography: needing to travel long distances for health care can make care hard to reach, especially if transportation is difficult or the weather is bad. The second concern was availability of health professionals: rural areas often lack health care services. Patients may also feel powerless in “referral games” between rural and urban providers. People with low education or without others to help them may find navigating care more difficult. When rural services are available, patients like seeing clinicians who have known them for a long time, and like how familiar clinicians treat them as a whole person. The third concern was rural culture: patients may feel like outsiders in city hospitals or clinics. As well, in rural communities, people may share a feeling of self-reliance and community belonging. This may make them more eager to take care of themselves and each other, and less willing to seek distant care. Each of these factors can increase or decrease patient vulnerability, depending on how health services are provided.
PMCID: PMC3817950  PMID: 24228078
6.  Who needs what from a national health research system: lessons from reforms to the English Department of Health's R&D system 
Health research systems consist of diverse groups who have some role in health research, but the boundaries around such a system are not clear-cut. To explore what various stakeholders need we reviewed the literature including that on the history of English health R&D reforms, and we also applied some relevant conceptual frameworks.
We first describe the needs and capabilities of the main groups of stakeholders in health research systems, and explain key features of policymaking systems within which these stakeholders operate in the UK. The five groups are policymakers (and health care managers), health professionals, patients and the general public, industry, and researchers. As individuals and as organisations they have a range of needs from the health research system, but should also develop specific capabilities in order to contribute effectively to the system and benefit from it.
Second, we discuss key phases of reform in the development of the English health research system over four decades - especially that of the English Department of Health's R&D system - and identify how far legitimate demands of key stakeholder interests were addressed.
Third, in drawing lessons we highlight points emerging from contemporary reports, but also attempt to identify issues through application of relevant conceptual frameworks. The main lessons are: the importance of comprehensively addressing the diverse needs of various interacting institutions and stakeholders; the desirability of developing facilitating mechanisms at interfaces between the health research system and its various stakeholders; and the importance of additional money in being able to expand the scope of the health research system whilst maintaining support for basic science.
We conclude that the latest health R&D strategy in England builds on recent progress and tackles acknowledged weaknesses. The strategy goes a considerable way to identifying and more effectively meeting the needs of key groups such as medical academics, patients and industry, and has been remarkably successful in increasing the funding for health research. There are still areas that might benefit from further recognition and resourcing, but the lessons identified, and progress made by the reforms are relevant for the design and coordination of national health research systems beyond England.
doi:10.1186/1478-4505-8-11
PMCID: PMC2881918  PMID: 20465789
7.  A qualitative evaluation of general practitioners' perceptions regarding access to medicines in New Zealand 
BMJ Open  2012;2(2):e000518.
Objective
The objective of this study was to evaluate general practitioners' (GPs) perceptions regarding access to medicines in New Zealand.
Design
Qualitative.
Setting
Primary care.
Participants
GPs.
Main outcome measures
GPs' views and perceptions.
Results
GPs were of the view that the current range of medicines available in New Zealand was reasonable; however, it was acknowledged that there were some drugs that patients were missing out on. When considering the range of subsidised medicines available in New Zealand, some GPs felt that there had been an improvement over recent years. It was highlighted that unexpected funding changes could create financial barriers for some patients and that administrative procedures and other complexities created barriers in receiving a subsidy for restricted medicines. GPs also reported problems with the availability and sole supply of certain medicines and claimed that switching from a branded medicine to its generic counterpart could be disruptive for patients.
Conclusions
The research concluded that although there were some issues with the availability of certain drugs, most GPs were satisfied with the broader access to medicines situation in New Zealand. This view is to contrary to the situation presented by the pharmaceutical industry. The issues around sole supply, the use of generic medicines and the administrative barriers regarding funding of medicines could be improved with better systems. The current work provides a solid account of what GPs see as the advantages and disadvantages of the current system and how they balance these demands in practice.
Article summary
Article focus
To evaluate GPs' perceptions regarding access to medicines in New Zealand.
To identify GPs' views and perceptions regarding the role of PHARMAC within the New Zealand healthcare system.
Key messages
GPs were of the view that the current range of medicines available in New Zealand was reasonable; however, it was acknowledged that there were some drugs that patients were missing out on.
When considering the range of subsidised medicines available in New Zealand, some GPs felt that there had been an improvement over recent years.
It was highlighted that unexpected funding changes could create financial barriers for some patients and that administrative procedures and other complexities created barriers in receiving a subsidy for restricted medicines.
Strengths and limitations of this study
This is the first independent objective study covering GPs' perceptions regarding access to medicines issues in New Zealand.
Findings from this study will form an essential component of any future research, which reviews New Zealand's current medicines policy.
It will also help in developing strategies to better inform patients' access to medicines, with GPs being a large group of health professionals likely to positively affect patient knowledge and views.
All GPs were working in a large metropolitan city in New Zealand—it is not known whether their views and experiences differ from colleagues working and living in small towns and rural locales.
Also, only 19 of 150 contacted were interested in participating so this could be another source of bias in the study.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000518
PMCID: PMC3317137  PMID: 22457477
8.  Primary Care Research Team Assessment (PCRTA): development and evaluation. 
BACKGROUND: Since the early 1990s the United Kingdom (UK) Department of Health has explicitly promoted a research and development (R&D) strategy for the National Health Service (NHS). General practitioners (GPs) and other members of the primary care team are in a unique position to undertake research activity that will complement and inform the research undertaken by basic scientists and hospital-based colleagues and lead directly to a better evidence base for decision making by primary care professionals. Opportunities to engage in R&D in primary care are growing and the scope for those wishing to become involved is finally widening. Infrastructure funding for research-active practices and the establishment of a range of support networks have helped to improve the research capacity and blur some of the boundaries between academic departments and clinical practice. This is leading to a supportive environment for primary care research. There is thus a need to develop and validate nationally accepted quality standards and accreditation of performance to ensure that funders, collaborators and primary care professionals can deliver high quality primary care research. Several strategies have been described in national policy documents in order to achieve an improvement in teaching and clinical care, as well as enhancing research capacity in primary care. The development of both research practices and primary care research networks has been recognised as having an important contribution to make in enabling health professionals to devote more protected time to undertake research methods training and to undertake research in a service setting. The recognition and development of primary care research has also brought with it an emphasis on quality and standards, including an approach to the new research governance framework. PRIMARY CARE RESEARCH TEAM ASSESSMENT: In 1998, the NHS Executive South and West, and later the London Research and Development Directorate, provided funding for a pilot project based at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) to develop a scheme to accredit UK general practices undertaking primary care R&D. The pilot began with initial consultation on the development of the process, as well as the standards and criteria for assessment. The resulting assessment schedule allowed for assessment at one of two levels: Collaborative Research Practice (Level I), with little direct experience of gaining project or infrastructure funding Established Research Practice (Level II), with more experience of research funding and activity and a sound infrastructure to allow for growth in capacity. The process for assessment of practices involved the assessment of written documentation, followed by a half-day assessment visit by a multidisciplinary team of three assessors. IMPLEMENTATION--THE PILOT PROJECT: Pilot practices were sampled in two regions. Firstly, in the NHS Executive South West Region, where over 150 practices expressed an interest in participating. From these a purposive sample of 21 practices was selected, providing a range of research and service activity. A further seven practices were identified and included within the project through the East London and Essex Network of Researchers (ELENoR). Many in this latter group received funding and administrative support and advice from ELENoR in order to prepare written submissions for assessment. Some sample loss was encountered within the pilot project, which was attributable largely to conflicting demands on participants' time. Indeed, the preparation of written submissions within the South West coincided with the introduction of primary care groups (PCGs) in April 1999, which several practices cited as having a major impact on their participation in the pilot project. A final sample of 15 practices (nine in the South West and six through ELENoR) underwent assessment through the pilot project. EVALUATION: A formal evaluation of the Primary Care Research Team Assessment (PCRTA) pilot was undertaken by an independent researcher (FM). This was supplemented with feedback from the assessment team members. The qualitative aspect of the evaluation, which included face-to-face and telephone interviews with assessors, lead researchers and other practice staff within the pilot research practices, as well as members of the project management group, demonstrated a positive view of the pilot scheme. Several key areas were identified in relation to particular strengths of research practices and areas for development including: Strengths Level II practices were found to have a strong primary care team ethos in research. Level II practices tended to have a greater degree of strategic thinking in relation to research. Development areas Level I practices were found to lack a clear and explicit research strategy. Practices at both levels had scope to develop their communication processes for dissemination of research and also for patient involvement. Practices at both levels needed mechanisms for supporting professional development in research methodology. The evaluation demonstrated that practices felt that they had gained from their participation and assessors felt that the scheme had worked well. Some specific issues were raised by different respondents within the qualitative evaluation relating to consistency of interpretation of standards and also the possible overlap of the assessment scheme with other RCGP quality initiatives. NATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PRIMARY CARE RESEARCH TEAM ASSESSMENT: The pilot project has been very successful and recommendations have been made to progress to a UK scheme. Management and review of the scheme will remain largely the same, with a few changes focusing on the assessment process and support for practices entering the scheme. Specific changes include: development of the support and mentoring role of the primary care research networks increased peer and external support and mentoring for research practices undergoing assessment development of assessor training in line with other schemes within the RCGP Assessment Network work to ensure consistency across RCGP accreditation schemes in relation to key criteria, thereby facilitating comparable assessment processes refinement of the definition of the two groups, with Level I practices referred to as Collaborators and Level II practices as Investigator-Led. The project has continued to generate much enthusiasm and support and continues to reflect current policy. Indeed, recent developments include the proposed new funding arrangements for primary care R&D, which refer to the RCGP assessment scheme and recognise it as a key component in the future R&D agenda. The assessment scheme will help primary care trusts (PCTs) and individual practices to prepare and demonstrate their approach to research governance in a systematic way. It will also provide a more explicit avenue for primary care trusts to explore local service and development priorities identified within health improvement programmes and the research priorities set nationally for the NHS.
PMCID: PMC2560501  PMID: 12049028
9.  The Impact of eHealth on the Quality and Safety of Health Care: A Systematic Overview 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(1):e1000387.
Aziz Sheikh and colleagues report the findings of their systematic overview that assessed the impact of eHealth solutions on the quality and safety of health care.
Background
There is considerable international interest in exploiting the potential of digital solutions to enhance the quality and safety of health care. Implementations of transformative eHealth technologies are underway globally, often at very considerable cost. In order to assess the impact of eHealth solutions on the quality and safety of health care, and to inform policy decisions on eHealth deployments, we undertook a systematic review of systematic reviews assessing the effectiveness and consequences of various eHealth technologies on the quality and safety of care.
Methods and Findings
We developed novel search strategies, conceptual maps of health care quality, safety, and eHealth interventions, and then systematically identified, scrutinised, and synthesised the systematic review literature. Major biomedical databases were searched to identify systematic reviews published between 1997 and 2010. Related theoretical, methodological, and technical material was also reviewed. We identified 53 systematic reviews that focused on assessing the impact of eHealth interventions on the quality and/or safety of health care and 55 supplementary systematic reviews providing relevant supportive information. This systematic review literature was found to be generally of substandard quality with regards to methodology, reporting, and utility. We thematically categorised eHealth technologies into three main areas: (1) storing, managing, and transmission of data; (2) clinical decision support; and (3) facilitating care from a distance. We found that despite support from policymakers, there was relatively little empirical evidence to substantiate many of the claims made in relation to these technologies. Whether the success of those relatively few solutions identified to improve quality and safety would continue if these were deployed beyond the contexts in which they were originally developed, has yet to be established. Importantly, best practice guidelines in effective development and deployment strategies are lacking.
Conclusions
There is a large gap between the postulated and empirically demonstrated benefits of eHealth technologies. In addition, there is a lack of robust research on the risks of implementing these technologies and their cost-effectiveness has yet to be demonstrated, despite being frequently promoted by policymakers and “techno-enthusiasts” as if this was a given. In the light of the paucity of evidence in relation to improvements in patient outcomes, as well as the lack of evidence on their cost-effectiveness, it is vital that future eHealth technologies are evaluated against a comprehensive set of measures, ideally throughout all stages of the technology's life cycle. Such evaluation should be characterised by careful attention to socio-technical factors to maximise the likelihood of successful implementation and adoption.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
There is considerable international interest in exploiting the potential of digital health care solutions, often referred to as eHealth—the use of information and communication technologies—to enhance the quality and safety of health care. Often accompanied by large costs, any large-scale expenditure on eHealth—such as electronic health records, picture archiving and communication systems, ePrescribing, associated computerized provider order entry systems, and computerized decision support systems—has tended to be justified on the grounds that these are efficient and cost-effective means for improving health care. In 2005, the World Health Assembly passed an eHealth resolution (WHA 58.28) that acknowledged, “eHealth is the cost-effective and secure use of information and communications technologies in support of health and health-related fields, including health-care services, health surveillance, health literature, and health education, knowledge and research,” and urged member states to develop and implement eHealth technologies. Since then, implementing eHealth technologies has become a main priority for many countries. For example, England has invested at least £12.8 billion in a National Programme for Information Technology for the National Health Service, and the Obama administration in the United States has committed to a US$38 billion eHealth investment in health care.
Why Was This Study Done?
Despite the wide endorsement of and support for eHealth, the scientific basis of its benefits—which are repeatedly made and often uncritically accepted—remains to be firmly established. A robust evidence-based perspective on the advantages on eHealth could help to suggest priority areas that have the greatest potential for benefit to patients and also to inform international eHealth deliberations on costs. Therefore, in order to better inform the international community, the authors systematically reviewed the published systematic review literature on eHealth technologies and evaluated the impact of these technologies on the quality and safety of health care delivery.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers divided eHealth technologies into three main categories: (1) storing, managing, and transmission of data; (2) clinical decision support; and (3) facilitating care from a distance. Then, implementing methods based on those developed by the Cochrane Collaboration and the NHS Service Delivery and Organisation Programme, the researchers used detailed search strategies and maps of health care quality, safety, and eHealth interventions to identify relevant systematic reviews (and related theoretical, methodological, and technical material) published between 1997 and 2010. Using these techniques, the researchers retrieved a total of 46,349 references from which they identified 108 reviews. The 53 reviews that the researchers finally selected (and critically reviewed) provided the main evidence base for assessing the impact of eHealth technologies in the three categories selected.
In their systematic review of systematic reviews, the researchers included electronic health records and picture archiving communications systems in their evaluation of category 1, computerized provider (or physician) order entry and e-prescribing in category 2, and all clinical information systems that, when used in the context of eHealth technologies, integrate clinical and demographic patient information to support clinician decision making in category 3.
The researchers found that many of the clinical claims made about the most commonly used eHealth technologies were not substantiated by empirical evidence. The evidence base in support of eHealth technologies was weak and inconsistent and importantly, there was insubstantial evidence to support the cost-effectiveness of these technologies. For example, the researchers only found limited evidence that some of the many presumed benefits could be realized; importantly, they also found some evidence that introducing these new technologies may on occasions also generate new risks such as prescribers becoming over-reliant on clinical decision support for e-prescribing, or overestimate its functionality, resulting in decreased practitioner performance.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The researchers found that despite the wide support for eHealth technologies and the frequently made claims by policy makers when constructing business cases to raise funds for large-scale eHealth projects, there is as yet relatively little empirical evidence to substantiate many of the claims made about eHealth technologies. In addition, even for the eHealth technology tools that have proven to be successful, there is little evidence to show that such tools would continue to be successful beyond the contexts in which they were originally developed. Therefore, in light of the lack of evidence in relation to improvements in patient outcomes, as well as the lack of evidence on their cost-effectiveness, the authors say that future eHealth technologies should be evaluated against a comprehensive set of measures, ideally throughout all stages of the technology's life cycle, and include socio-technical factors to maximize the likelihood of successful implementation and adoption in a given context. Furthermore, it is equally important that eHealth projects that have already been commissioned are subject to rigorous, multidisciplinary, and independent evaluation.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000387.
The authors' broader study is: Car J, Black A, Anandan C, Cresswell K, Pagliari C, McKinstry B, et al. (2008) The Impact of eHealth on the Quality and Safety of Healthcare. Available at: http://www.haps.bham.ac.uk/publichealth/cfhep/001.shtml
More information is available on the World Health Assembly eHealth resolution
The World Health Organization provides information at the Global Observatory on eHealth, as well as a global insight into eHealth developments
The European Commission provides Information on eHealth in Europe and some examples of good eHealth practice
More information is provided on NHS Connecting for Health
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000387
PMCID: PMC3022523  PMID: 21267058
10.  Primary health care in New Zealand: the impact of organisational factors on teamwork 
Background
Although teamwork is known to optimise good health care, organisational arrangements and funding models can foster, discourage, or preclude functional teamworking. Despite a new, enhanced population-based funding system for primary care in New Zealand, bringing new opportunities for more collaborative practice, fully implemented healthcare teamwork remains elusive.
Aim
To explore perceptions of interprofessional relationships, teamwork, and collaborative patient care in New Zealand primary care practice.
Design of study
Qualitative.
Setting
Eighteen nurses and doctors working in primary care, Wellington, New Zealand.
Method
Data were collected using in-depth interviews with individual nurses and doctors working in primary care settings. Perceptions of, and attitudes about, interprofessional relationships, teamwork, and collaborative patient care were explored, using an interactive process of content analysis and principles of naturalistic enquiry.
Results
Nurses and doctors working in New Zealand primary care perceive funding models that include fee-for-service, task-based components as strongly discouraging collaborative patient care. In contrast, teamwork was seen to be promoted when health services, not individual practitioners, were bulk-funded for capitated healthcare provision. In well-organised practices, where priority was placed on uninterrupted time for meetings, open communication, and interprofessional respect, good teamwork was more often observed. Salaried practices, where doctors and nurses alike were employees, were considered by some interviewees to be particularly supportive of good teamwork. Few interviewees had received, or knew of, any training to work in teams.
Conclusion
Health system, funding, and organisational factors still act as significant barriers to the successful implementation of, and training for, effective teamwork in New Zealand primary care settings, despite new opportunities for more collaborative ways of working.
doi:10.3399/bjgp09X395003
PMCID: PMC2648917  PMID: 19275835
primary health care; New Zealand; teamwork
11.  Interactions between Non-Physician Clinicians and Industry: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(11):e1001561.
In a systematic review of studies of interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry, Quinn Grundy and colleagues found that many of the issues identified for physicians' industry interactions exist for non-physician clinicians.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
With increasing restrictions placed on physician–industry interactions, industry marketing may target other health professionals. Recent health policy developments confer even greater importance on the decision making of non-physician clinicians. The purpose of this systematic review is to examine the types and implications of non-physician clinician–industry interactions in clinical practice.
Methods and Findings
We searched MEDLINE and Web of Science from January 1, 1946, through June 24, 2013, according to PRISMA guidelines. Non-physician clinicians eligible for inclusion were: Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, Physician Assistants, pharmacists, dieticians, and physical or occupational therapists; trainee samples were excluded. Fifteen studies met inclusion criteria. Data were synthesized qualitatively into eight outcome domains: nature and frequency of industry interactions; attitudes toward industry; perceived ethical acceptability of interactions; perceived marketing influence; perceived reliability of industry information; preparation for industry interactions; reactions to industry relations policy; and management of industry interactions. Non-physician clinicians reported interacting with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Clinicians across disciplines met with pharmaceutical representatives regularly and relied on them for practice information. Clinicians frequently received industry “information,” attended sponsored “education,” and acted as distributors for similar materials targeted at patients. Clinicians generally regarded this as an ethical use of industry resources, and felt they could detect “promotion” while benefiting from industry “information.” Free samples were among the most approved and common ways that clinicians interacted with industry. Included studies were observational and of varying methodological rigor; thus, these findings may not be generalizable. This review is, however, the first to our knowledge to provide a descriptive analysis of this literature.
Conclusions
Non-physician clinicians' generally positive attitudes toward industry interactions, despite their recognition of issues related to bias, suggest that industry interactions are normalized in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. Industry relations policy should address all disciplines and be implemented consistently in order to mitigate conflicts of interest and address such interactions' potential to affect patient care.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Making and selling health care goods (including drugs and devices) and services is big business. To maximize the profits they make for their shareholders, companies involved in health care build relationships with physicians by providing information on new drugs, organizing educational meetings, providing samples of their products, giving gifts, and holding sponsored events. These relationships help to keep physicians informed about new developments in health care but also create the potential for causing harm to patients and health care systems. These relationships may, for example, result in increased prescription rates of new, heavily marketed medications, which are often more expensive than their generic counterparts (similar unbranded drugs) and that are more likely to be recalled for safety reasons than long-established drugs. They may also affect the provision of health care services. Industry is providing an increasingly large proportion of routine health care services in many countries, so relationships built up with physicians have the potential to influence the commissioning of the services that are central to the treatment and well-being of patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
As a result of concerns about the tension between industry's need to make profits and the ethics underlying professional practice, restrictions are increasingly being placed on physician–industry interactions. In the US, for example, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act now requires US manufacturers of drugs, devices, and medical supplies that participate in federal health care programs to disclose all payments and gifts made to physicians and teaching hospitals. However, other health professionals, including those with authority to prescribe drugs such as pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and nurse practitioners are not covered by this legislation or by similar legislation in other settings, even though the restructuring of health care to prioritize primary care and multidisciplinary care models means that “non-physician clinicians” are becoming more numerous and more involved in decision-making and medication management. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers examine the nature and implications of the interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 15 published studies that examined interactions between non-physician clinicians (Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, midwives, pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and dieticians) and industry (corporations that produce health care goods and services). They extracted the data from 16 publications (representing 15 different studies) and synthesized them qualitatively (combined the data and reached word-based, rather than numerical, conclusions) into eight outcome domains, including the nature and frequency of interactions, non-physician clinicians' attitudes toward industry, and the perceived ethical acceptability of interactions. In the research the authors identified, non-physician clinicians reported frequent interactions with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Most non-physician clinicians met industry representatives regularly, received gifts and samples, and attended educational events or received educational materials (some of which they distributed to patients). In these studies, non-physician clinicians generally regarded these interactions positively and felt they were an ethical and appropriate use of industry resources. Only a minority of non-physician clinicians felt that marketing influenced their own practice, although a larger percentage felt that their colleagues would be influenced. A sizeable proportion of non-physician clinicians questioned the reliability of industry information, but most were confident that they could detect biased information and therefore rated this information as reliable, valuable, or useful.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These and other findings suggest that non-physician clinicians generally have positive attitudes toward industry interactions but recognize issues related to bias and conflict of interest. Because these findings are based on a small number of studies, most of which were undertaken in the US, they may not be generalizable to other countries. Moreover, they provide no quantitative assessment of the interaction between non-physician clinicians and industry and no information about whether industry interactions affect patient care outcomes. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that industry interactions are normalized (seen as standard) in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. This normalization creates the potential for serious risks to patients and health care systems. The researchers suggest that it may be unrealistic to expect that non-physician clinicians can be taught individually how to interact with industry ethically or how to detect and avert bias, particularly given the ubiquitous nature of marketing and promotional materials. Instead, they suggest, the environment in which non-physician clinicians practice should be structured to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of interactions with industry.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001561.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by James S. Yeh and Aaron S. Kesselheim
The American Medical Association provides guidance for physicians on interactions with pharmaceutical industry representatives, information about the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, and a toolkit for preparing Physician Payments Sunshine Act reports
The International Council of Nurses provides some guidance on industry interactions in its position statement on nurse-industry relations
The UK General Medical Council provides guidance on financial and commercial arrangements and conflicts of interest as part of its good medical practice website, which describes what is required of all registered doctors in the UK
Understanding and Responding to Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Practical Guide is a manual prepared by Health Action International and the World Health Organization that schools of medicine and pharmacy can use to train students how to recognize and respond to pharmaceutical promotion.
The Institute of Medicine's Report on Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice recommends steps to identify, limit, and manage conflicts of interest
The University of California, San Francisco, Office of Continuing Medical Education offers a course called Marketing of Medicines
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001561
PMCID: PMC3841103  PMID: 24302892
12.  Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care: lessons from the theory of communities of practice 
Background
The paper combines the analytical and instrumental perspectives on communities of practice (CoPs) to reflect on potential challenges that may arise in the process of interprofessional and inter-organisational joint working within the Collaborations for Leaderships in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs)--partnerships between the universities and National Health Service (NHS) Trusts aimed at conducting applied health research and translating its findings into day-to-day clinical practice.
Discussion
The paper discusses seminal theoretical literature on CoPs as well as previous empirical research on the role of these communities in healthcare collaboration, which is organised around the following three themes: knowledge sharing within and across CoPs, CoP formation and manageability, and identity building in CoPs. It argues that the multiprofessional and multi-agency nature of the CLAHRCs operating in the traditionally demarcated organisational landscape of the NHS may present formidable obstacles to knowledge sharing between various professional groupings, formation of a shared 'collaborative' identity, and the development of new communities within the CLAHRCs. To cross multiple boundaries between various professional and organisational communities and hence enable the flow of knowledge, the CLAHRCs will have to create an effective system of 'bridges' involving knowledge brokers, boundary objects, and cross-disciplinary interactions as well as address a number of issues related to professional and organisational identification.
Summary
The CoP approach can complement traditional 'stage-of-change' theories used in the field of implementation research and provide a basis for designing theory-informed interventions and evaluations. It can help to illuminate multiple boundaries that exist between professional and organisational groups within the CLAHRCs and suggest ways of crossing those boundaries to enable knowledge transfer and organisational learning. Achieving the aims of the CLAHRCs and producing a sustainable change in the ways applied health research is conducted and implemented may be influenced by how effectively these organisations can navigate through the multiple CoPs involved and promote the development of new multiprofessional and multi-organisational communities united by shared practice and a shared sense of belonging--an assumption that needs to be explored by further empirical research.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-64
PMCID: PMC3130688  PMID: 21699712
13.  Reconstructing Tuberculosis Services after Major Conflict: Experiences and Lessons Learned in East Timor 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e383.
Background
Tuberculosis (TB) is a major public health problem in developing countries. Following the disruption to health services in East Timor due to violent political conflict in 1999, the National Tuberculosis Control Program was established, with a local non-government organisation as the lead agency. Within a few months, the TB program was operational in all districts.
Methods and Findings
Using the East Timor TB program as a case study, we have examined the enabling factors for the implementation of this type of communicable disease control program in a post-conflict setting. Stakeholder analysis was undertaken, and semi-structured interviews were conducted in 2003 with 24 key local and international stakeholders. Coordination, cooperation, and collaboration were identified as major contributors to the success of the TB program. The existing local structure and experience of the local non-government organisation, the commitment among local personnel and international advisors to establishing an effective program, and the willingness of international advisers and local counterparts to be flexible in their approach were also important factors. This success was achieved despite major impediments, including mass population displacement, lack of infrastructure, and the competing interests of organisations working in the health sector.
Conclusions
Five years after the conflict, the TB program continues to operate in all districts with high notification rates, although the lack of a feeling of ownership by government health workers remains a challenge. Lessons learned in East Timor may be applicable to other post-conflict settings where TB is highly prevalent, and may have relevance to other disease control programs.
A qualitative study of re-introduction of tuberculosis services in East Timor in 1999, after a period of civil conflict, concluded coordination, cooperation, and collaboration contributed to the success achieved.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease and one of the world's most serious health problems. It causes between 2 million and 3 million deaths every year, most of them in developing countries. The success of national control programs has varied considerably between countries. In times of war or other emergencies, control efforts are considerably hampered. East Timor is a former Portuguese colony in Southeast Asia annexed by Indonesia in 1975. It is a small country of about 1 million people situated some 500 miles northwest of Australia. In 1999, following a referendum on independence from Indonesia, violent civil conflict led to the destruction of much of East Timor's health-care system. As tuberculosis was known to be one of the country's biggest health problems, efforts to improve treatment were launched during the transition to independence in 2002. Several organizations, led by a local non-government organization (NGO), Caritas East Timor, collaborated in the new program. Many difficulties had to be overcome, including the forced movement of people away from their homes during the fighting, the departure of many health-care workers from the country, and the destruction of health-care facilities. Nevertheless, in its first three years the program diagnosed and commenced treatment on 10,722 patients. The rate of treatment success reached 81% in 2003, which—in international terms—is regarded as very high.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted to find out from the people involved with the program how well they thought it was performing, what its strengths were, and what remained to be achieved. The lessons learned could be of use in other countries, particularly those recovering from civil conflict and other emergencies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In 2003, the researchers reviewed all available documents that had been written about the tuberculosis program. They also carried out interviews with 24 senior people involved with the program. Some of them were East Timorese, and some were from international organizations. The questions asked in the interviews were semi-structured. In other words, the researchers wanted to make sure that certain topics were covered but also wanted the people they questioned to have freedom in the way they gave their answers; they were not restricted to answering only “yes” or “no.” This kind of approach, where there is no gathering of precise figures that can be mathematically analyzed, is known as qualitative research.
The national tuberculosis program was considered to be working well in 2003. The researchers concluded that good coordination, cooperation, and collaboration were the most important factors contributing to the successes that had been achieved. The existing local structure and experience of the local NGO, the commitment among local personnel and international advisors to establishing an effective program, and the willingness of international advisers and local counterparts to be flexible in their approach were also important factors. The feeling among some government health workers that they lacked “ownership” of the program was one problem that still needed to be overcome.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Even after a major conflict, it was possible to launch an effective tuberculosis program in East Timor. Other countries in similar situations might be able to achieve success by applying the same approach. Unfortunately, renewed conflict broke out in East Timor in 2006. It will again be necessary to restore services, putting to use the lessons already learned.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030383.
Basic information about tuberculosis can be found on the Web site of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
The Web site of the World Health Organization's Stop TB department describes the recommended strategies for tuberculosis control
TB Alert, a UK-based charity that promotes tuberculosis awareness worldwide, has information on tuberculosis in several European, African, and Asian languages
A country profile of East Timor is available on the BBC Web site
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030383
PMCID: PMC1550733  PMID: 16933956
14.  Stakeholder perceptions of a nurse led walk-in centre 
Background
As many countries face primary care medical workforce shortages and find it difficult to provide timely and affordable care they seek to find new ways of delivering first point of contact health care through developing new service models. In common with other areas of rural and regional Australia, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is currently experiencing a general practitioner (GP) workforce shortage which impacts significantly on the ability of patients to access GP led primary care services. The introduction of a nurse led primary care Walk-in Centre in the ACT aimed to fulfill an unmet health care need in the community and meet projected demand for health care services as well as relieve pressure on the hospital system. Stakeholders have the potential to influence health service planning and policy, to advise on the potential of services to meet population health needs and to assess how acceptable health service innovation is to key stakeholder groups. This study aimed to ascertain the views of key stakeholders about the Walk-in Centre.
Methods
Stakeholders were purposively selected through the identification of individuals and organisations which had organisational or professional contact with the Walk-in Centre. Semi structured interviews around key themes were conducted with seventeen stakeholders.
Results
Stakeholders were generally supportive of the Walk-in Centre but identified key areas which they considered needed to be addressed. These included the service's systems, full utilisation of the nurse practitioner role and adequate education and training. It was also suggested that a doctor could be available to the Centre as a source of referral for patients who fall outside the nurses' scope of practice. The location of the Centre was seen to impact on patient flows to the Emergency Department.
Conclusion
Nurse led Walk-in Centres are one response to addressing primary health care medical workforce shortages. Whilst some stakeholders have reservations about the model others are supportive and see the potential the model has to provide accessible primary health care. Any further developments of nurse-led Walk-in Centres need to take into account the views of key stakeholders so as to ensure that the model is acceptable and sustainable.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-382
PMCID: PMC3529673  PMID: 23126431
15.  Building effective service linkages in primary mental health care: a narrative review part 2 
Background
Primary care services have not generally been effective in meeting mental health care needs. There is evidence that collaboration between primary care and specialist mental health services can improve clinical and organisational outcomes. It is not clear however what factors enable or hinder effective collaboration. The objective of this study was to examine the factors that enable effective collaboration between specialist mental health services and primary mental health care.
Methods
A narrative and thematic review of English language papers published between 1998 and 2009. An expert reference group helped formulate strategies for policy makers. Studies of descriptive and qualitative design from Australia, New Zealand, UK, Europe, USA and Canada were included. Data were extracted on factors reported as enablers or barriers to development of service linkages. These were tabulated by theme at clinical and organisational levels and the inter-relationship between themes was explored.
Results
A thematic analysis of 30 papers found the most frequently cited group of factors was "partnership formation", specifically role clarity between health care workers. Other factor groups supporting clinical partnership formation were staff support, clinician attributes, clinic physical features and evaluation and feedback. At the organisational level a supportive institutional environment of leadership and change management was important. The expert reference group then proposed strategies for collaboration that would be seen as important, acceptable and feasible. Because of the variability of study types we did not exclude on quality and findings are weighted by the number of studies. Variability in local service contexts limits the generalisation of findings.
Conclusion
The findings provide a framework for health planners to develop effective service linkages in primary mental health care. Our expert reference group proposed five areas of strategy for policy makers that address organisational level support, joint clinical problem solving, local joint care guidelines, staff training and supervision and feedback.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-66
PMCID: PMC3070626  PMID: 21435273
Narrative review; mental health services; primary health care; cooperative behaviour
16.  The Australian preventive health agenda: what will this mean for workforce development? 
The formation of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) and the National Preventative Task Force in 2008, demonstrate a renewed Australian Government commitment to health reform. The re-focus on prevention, bringing it to the centre of health care has significant implications for health service delivery in the primary health care setting, supportive organisational structures and continuing professional development for the existing clinical and public health workforce. It is an opportune time, therefore, to consider new approaches to workforce development aligned to health policy reform. Regardless of the actual recommendations from the NHHRC in June 2009, there will be an emphasis on performance improvements which are accountable and aligned to new preventive health policy, organisational priorites and anticipated improved health outcomes.
To achieve this objective there will be a need for the existing population health workforce, primary health care and non-government sectors to increase their knowledge and understanding of prevention, promotion and protection theory and practice within new organisational frameworks and linked to the community. This shift needs to be part of a national health services research agenda, infrastructure and funding which is supportive of quality continuing professional development.
This paper discusses policy and practice issues related to workforce development as part of an integrated response to the preventive agenda.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-6-14
PMCID: PMC2696455  PMID: 19463159
17.  Assessing the capacity of the health services research community in Australia and New Zealand 
Background
In order to profile the health services research community in Australia and New Zealand and describe its capacity, a web-based survey was administered to members of the Health Services Research Association of Australia and New Zealand (HSRAANZ) and delegates of the HSRAANZ's Third Health Services Research and Policy Conference.
Results
Responses were received from 191 individuals (68%). The responses of the 165 (86%) who conducted or managed health services research indicated that the health services research community in Australia and New Zealand is characterised by highly qualified professionals who have come to health services research via a range of academic and professional routes (including clinical backgrounds), the majority of whom are women aged between 35 and 54 who have mid- to senior- level appointments. They are primarily employed in universities and, to a lesser extent, government departments and health services. Although most are employed in full time positions, many are only able to devote part of their time to health services research, often juggling this with other professional roles. They rely heavily on external funding, as only half have core funding from their employing institution and around one third have employment contracts of one year or less. Many view issues around building the capacity of the health services research community and addressing funding deficits as crucial if health services research is to be translated into policy and practice. Despite the difficulties they face, most are positive about the support and advice available from peers in their work settings, and many are actively contributing to knowledge through academic and other written outputs.
Conclusion
If health services research is to achieve its potential in Australia and New Zealand, policy-makers and funders must take the concerns of the health services research community seriously, foster its development, and contribute to maximising its capacity through a sustainable approach to funding. There is a clear need for a strategic approach, where the health services research community collaborates with competitive granting bodies and government departments to define and fund a research agenda that balances priority-driven and investigator-driven research and which provides support for training and career development.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-2-4
PMCID: PMC1079789  PMID: 15755322
Health services research; capacity; resources; funding; outputs; Australia; New Zealand
18.  National evaluation of general practitioner commissioning pilots: lessons for primary care groups. 
BACKGROUND: The national evaluation of general practitioner (GP) commissioning pilots was commissioned by the Department of Health in 1997 as part of its Policy Research Programme. It was conducted by the Health Services Management Centre at the University of Birmingham. AIM: To monitor the development of the 40 national pilot sites, identify the factors that inhibited or facilitated progress, and consider the implications for the implementation and development of primary care groups (PCGs). METHOD: Semi-structured face-to-face interviews with GPs, health authority (HA) managers, and pilot managers from each of the 40 pilot sites (141 interviews in total) and focus group discussions with nurses, social services officers, and community health council officers in the 40 sites. RESULTS: Stakeholders reported the key achievements of the pilots during their first six months as being improved collaboration between GPs, the establishment of organisational arrangements, and work towards managing the group prescribing budget. Obstacles for the groups included changes to government policy regarding primary care, the workload involved for clinical staff, the pilots' relationship with the local HA, and problems with information management and technology (IM&T). A more detailed analysis of the pilots' management arrangements, prescribing work, IM&T support, and stakeholder involvement points to a set of lessons for emerging PCGs. CONCLUSIONS: In their early stages of development, PCGs are likely to focus on issues of structure and process. Prescribing will be an area receiving particular attention, prefiguring some of the challenges of clinical governance in primary care. IM&T will prove to be more problematic than first assumed. The involvement of a wider range of stakeholders will be addressed by primary care groups, particularly in relation to GPs and nurses.
PMCID: PMC1313725  PMID: 10962785
19.  Practice nursing in Australia: A review of education and career pathways 
BMC Nursing  2009;8:5.
Background
Nurses in Australia are often not educated in their pre registration years to meet the needs of primary care. Careers in primary care may not be as attractive to nursing graduates as high-tech settings such as intensive or acute care. Yet, it is in primary care that increasingly complex health problems are managed. The Australian government has invested in incentives for general practices to employ practice nurses. However, no policy framework has been developed for practice nursing to support career development and post-registration education and training programs are developed in an ad hoc manner and are not underpinned by core professional competencies. This paper reports on a systematic review undertaken to establish the available evidence on education models and career pathways with a view to enhancing recruitment and retention of practice nurses in primary care in Australia.
Methods
Search terms describing education models, career pathways and policy associated with primary care (practice) nursing were established. These search terms were used to search electronic databases. The search strategy identified 1394 citations of which 408 addressed one or more of the key search terms on policy, education and career pathways. Grey literature from the UK and New Zealand internet sites were sourced and examined. The UK and New Zealand Internet sites were selected because they have well established and advanced developments in education and career pathways for practice nurses.
Two reviewers examined titles, abstracts and studies, based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. Disagreement between the reviewers was resolved by consensus or by a third reviewer.
Results
Significant advances have been made in New Zealand and the UK towards strengthening frameworks for primary care nursing education and career pathways. However, in Australia there is no policy at national level prepare nurses to work in primary care sector and no framework for education or career pathways for nurses working in that sector.
Conclusion
There is a need for national training standards and a process of accreditation for practice nursing in Australia to support the development of a responsive and sustainable nursing workforce in primary care and to provide quality education and career pathways.
doi:10.1186/1472-6955-8-5
PMCID: PMC2698919  PMID: 19473493
20.  e-Health, m-Health and healthier social media reform: the big scale view 
Introduction
In the upcoming decade, digital platforms will be the backbone of a strategic revolution in the way medical services are provided, affecting both healthcare providers and patients. Digital-based patient-centered healthcare services allow patients to actively participate in managing their own care, in times of health as well as illness, using personally tailored interactive tools. Such empowerment is expected to increase patients’ willingness to adopt actions and lifestyles that promote health as well as improve follow-up and compliance with treatment in cases of chronic illness. Clalit Health Services (CHS) is the largest HMO in Israel and second largest world-wide. Through its 14 hospitals, 1300 primary and specialized clinics, and 650 pharmacies, CHS provides comprehensive medical care to the majority of Israel’s population (above 4 million members). CHS e-Health wing focuses on deepening patient involvement in managing health, through personalized digital interactive tools. Currently, CHS e-Health wing provides e-health services for 1.56 million unique patients monthly with 2.4 million interactions every month (August 2011). Successful implementation of e-Health solutions is not a sum of technology, innovation and health; rather it’s the expertise of tailoring knowledge and leadership capabilities in multidisciplinary areas: clinical, ethical, psychological, legal, comprehension of patient and medical team engagement etc. The Google Health case excellently demonstrates this point. On the other hand, our success with CHS is a demonstration that e-Health can be enrolled effectively and fast with huge benefits for both patients and medical teams, and with a robust business model.
CHS e-Health core components
They include:
1. The personal health record layer (what the patient can see) presents patients with their own medical history as well as the medical history of their preadult children, including diagnoses, allergies, vaccinations, laboratory results with interpretations in layman’s terms, medications with clear, straightforward explanations regarding dosing instructions, important side effects, contraindications, such as lactation etc., and other important medical information. All personal e-Health services require identification and authorization.
2. The personal knowledge layer (what the patient should know) presents patients with personally tailored recommendations for preventative medicine and health promotion. For example, diabetic patients are push notified regarding their yearly eye exam. The various health recommendations include: occult blood testing, mammography, lipid profile etc. Each recommendation contains textual, visual and interactive content components in order to promote engagement and motivate the patient to actually change his health behaviour.
3. The personal health services layer (what the patient can do) enables patients to schedule clinic visits, order chronic prescriptions, e-consult their physician via secured e-mail, set SMS medication reminders, e-consult a pharmacist regarding personal medications. Consultants’ answers are sent securely to the patients’ personal mobile device.
On December 2009 CHS launched secured, web based, synchronous medical consultation via video conference. Currently 11,780 e-visits are performed monthly (May 2011). The medical encounter includes e-prescription and referral capabilities which are biometrically signed by the physician. On December 2010 CHS launched a unique mobile health platform, which is one of the most comprehensive personal m-Health applications world-wide. An essential advantage of mobile devices is their potential to bridge the digital divide. Currently, CHS m-Health platform is used by more than 45,000 unique users, with 75,000 laboratory results views/month, 1100 m-consultations/month and 9000 physician visit scheduling/month.
4. The Bio-Sensing layer (what physiological data the patient can populate) includes diagnostic means that allow remote physical examination, bio-sensors that broadcast various physiological measurements, and smart homecare devices, such as e-Pill boxes that gives seniors, patients and their caregivers the ability to stay at home and live life to its fullest. Monitored data is automatically transmitted to the patient’s Personal Health Record and to relevant medical personnel.
The monitoring layer is embedded in the chronic disease management platform, and in the interactive health promotion and wellness platform. It includes tailoring of consumer-oriented medical devices and service provided by various professional personnel—physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dieticians and more.
5. The Social layer (what the patient can share). Social media networks triggered an essential change at the humanity ‘genome’ level, yet to be further defined in the upcoming years. Social media has huge potential in promoting health as it combines fun, simple yet extraordinary user experience, and bio-social-feedback. There are two major challenges in leveraging health care through social networks:
a. Our personal health information is the cornerstone for personalizing healthier lifestyle, disease management and preventative medicine. We naturally see our personal health data as a super-private territory. So, how do we bring the power of our private health information, currently locked within our Personal Health Record, into social media networks without offending basic privacy issues?
b. Disease management and preventive medicine are currently neither considered ‘cool’ nor ‘fun’ or ‘potentially highly viral’ activities; yet, health is a major issue of everybody’s life. It seems like we are missing a crucial element with a huge potential in health behavioural change—the Fun Theory. Social media platforms comprehends user experience tools that potentially could break current misconception, and engage people in the daily task of taking better care of themselves.
CHS e-Health innovation team characterized several break-through applications in this unexplored territory within social media networks, fusing personal health and social media platforms without offending privacy. One of the most crucial issues regarding adoption of e-health and m-health platforms is change management. Being a ‘hot’ innovative ‘gadget’ is far from sufficient for changing health behaviours at the individual and population levels.
CHS health behaviour change management methodology includes 4 core elements:
1. Engaging two completely different populations: patients, and medical teams. e-Health applications must present true added value for both medical teams and patients, engaging them through understanding and assimilating “what’s really in it for me”. Medical teams are further subdivided into physicians, nurses, pharmacists and administrative personnel—each with their own driving incentive. Resistance to change is an obstacle in many fields but it is particularly true in the conservative health industry. To successfully manage a large scale persuasive process, we treat intra-organizational human resources as “Change Agents”. Harnessing the persuasive power of ~40,000 employees requires engaging them as the primary target group. Successful recruitment has the potential of converting each patient-medical team interaction into an exposure opportunity to the new era of participatory medicine via e-health and m-health channels.
2. Implementation waves: every group of digital health products that are released at the same time are seen as one project. Each implementation wave leverages the focus of the organization and target populations to a defined time span. There are three major and three minor implementation waves a year.
3. Change-Support Arrow: a structured infrastructure for every implementation wave. The sub-stages in this strategy include:
Cross organizational mapping and identification of early adopters and stakeholders relevant to the implementation wave
Mapping positive or negative perceptions and designing specific marketing approaches for the distinct target groups
Intra and extra organizational marketing
Conducting intensive training and presentation sessions for groups of implementers
Running conflict-prevention activities, such as advanced tackling of potential union resistance
Training change-agents with resistance-management behavioural techniques, focused intervention for specific incidents and for key opinion leaders
Extensive presence in the clinics during the launch period, etc.
The entire process is monitored and managed continuously by a review team.
4. Closing Phase: each wave is analyzed and a “lessons-learned” session concludes the changes required in the modus operandi of the e-health project team.
PMCID: PMC3571141
e-Health; mobile health; personal health record; online visit; patient empowerment; knowledge prescription
21.  The Effectiveness of Community Action in Reducing Risky Alcohol Consumption and Harm: A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001617.
In a cluster randomized controlled trial, Anthony Shakeshaft and colleagues measure the effectiveness of a multi-component community-based intervention for reducing alcohol-related harm.
Background
The World Health Organization, governments, and communities agree that community action is likely to reduce risky alcohol consumption and harm. Despite this agreement, there is little rigorous evidence that community action is effective: of the six randomised trials of community action published to date, all were US-based and focused on young people (rather than the whole community), and their outcomes were limited to self-report or alcohol purchase attempts. The objective of this study was to conduct the first non-US randomised controlled trial (RCT) of community action to quantify the effectiveness of this approach in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harms measured using both self-report and routinely collected data.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster RCT comprising 20 communities in Australia that had populations of 5,000–20,000, were at least 100 km from an urban centre (population ≥ 100,000), and were not involved in another community alcohol project. Communities were pair-matched, and one member of each pair was randomly allocated to the experimental group. Thirteen interventions were implemented in the experimental communities from 2005 to 2009: community engagement; general practitioner training in alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI); feedback to key stakeholders; media campaign; workplace policies/practices training; school-based intervention; general practitioner feedback on their prescribing of alcohol medications; community pharmacy-based SBI; web-based SBI; Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services support for SBI; Good Sports program for sports clubs; identifying and targeting high-risk weekends; and hospital emergency department–based SBI. Primary outcomes based on routinely collected data were alcohol-related crime, traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions. Routinely collected data for the entire study period (2001–2009) were obtained in 2010. Secondary outcomes based on pre- and post-intervention surveys (n = 2,977 and 2,255, respectively) were the following: long-term risky drinking, short-term high-risk drinking, short-term risky drinking, weekly consumption, hazardous/harmful alcohol use, and experience of alcohol harm. At the 5% level of statistical significance, there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the interventions were effective in the experimental, relative to control, communities for alcohol-related crime, traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions, and for rates of risky alcohol consumption and hazardous/harmful alcohol use. Although respondents in the experimental communities reported statistically significantly lower average weekly consumption (1.90 fewer standard drinks per week, 95% CI = −3.37 to −0.43, p = 0.01) and less alcohol-related verbal abuse (odds ratio = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.35 to 0.96, p = 0.04) post-intervention, the low survey response rates (40% and 24% for the pre- and post-intervention surveys, respectively) require conservative interpretation. The main limitations of this study are as follows: (1) that the study may have been under-powered to detect differences in routinely collected data outcomes as statistically significant, and (2) the low survey response rates.
Conclusions
This RCT provides little evidence that community action significantly reduces risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms, other than potential reductions in self-reported average weekly consumption and experience of alcohol-related verbal abuse. Complementary legislative action may be required to more effectively reduce alcohol harms.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12607000123448
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
People have consumed alcoholic beverages throughout history, but alcohol use is now an increasing global public health problem. According to the World Health Organization's 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study, alcohol use is the fifth leading risk factor (after high blood pressure and smoking) for disease and is responsible for 3.9% of the global disease burden. Alcohol use contributes to heart disease, liver disease, depression, some cancers, and many other health conditions. Alcohol also affects the well-being and health of people around those who drink, through alcohol-related crimes and road traffic crashes. The impact of alcohol use on disease and injury depends on the amount of alcohol consumed and the pattern of drinking. Most guidelines define long-term risky drinking as more than four drinks per day on average for men or more than two drinks per day for women (a “drink” is, roughly speaking, a can of beer or a small glass of wine), and short-term risky drinking (also called binge drinking) as seven or more drinks on a single occasion for men or five or more drinks on a single occasion for women. However, recent changes to the Australian guidelines acknowledge that a lower level of alcohol consumption is considered risky (with lifetime risky drinking defined as more than two drinks a day and binge drinking defined as more than four drinks on one occasion).
Why Was This Study Done?
In 2010, the World Health Assembly endorsed a global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. This strategy emphasizes the importance of community action–a process in which a community defines its own needs and determines the actions that are required to meet these needs. Although community action is highly acceptable to community members, few studies have looked at the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm. Here, the researchers undertake a cluster randomized controlled trial (the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities [AARC] project) to quantify the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harms in rural communities in Australia. A cluster randomized trial compares outcomes in clusters of people (here, communities) who receive alternative interventions assigned through the play of chance.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers pair-matched 20 rural Australian communities according to the proportion of their population that was Aboriginal (rates of alcohol-related harm are disproportionately higher among Aboriginal individuals than among non-Aboriginal individuals in Australia; they are also higher among young people and males, but the proportions of these two groups across communities was comparable). They randomly assigned one member of each pair to the experimental group and implemented 13 interventions in these communities by negotiating with key individuals in each community to define and implement each intervention. Examples of interventions included general practitioner training in screening for alcohol use disorders and in implementing a brief intervention, and a school-based interactive session designed to reduce alcohol harm among young people. The researchers quantified the effectiveness of the interventions using routinely collected data on alcohol-related crime and road traffic crashes, and on hospital inpatient admissions for alcohol dependence or abuse (which were expected to increase in the experimental group if the intervention was effective because of more people seeking or being referred for treatment). They also examined drinking habits and experiences of alcohol-related harm, such as verbal abuse, among community members using pre- and post-intervention surveys. After implementation of the interventions, the rates of alcohol-related crime, road traffic crashes, and hospital admissions, and of risky and hazardous/harmful alcohol consumption (measured using a validated tool called the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) were not statistically significantly different in the experimental and control communities (a difference in outcomes that is not statistically significantly different can occur by chance). However, the reported average weekly consumption of alcohol was 20% lower in the experimental communities after the intervention than in the control communities (equivalent to 1.9 fewer standard drinks per week per respondent) and there was less alcohol-related verbal abuse post-intervention in the experimental communities than in the control communities.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide little evidence that community action reduced risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms in rural Australian communities. Although there was some evidence of significant reductions in self-reported weekly alcohol consumption and in experiences of alcohol-related verbal abuse, these findings must be interpreted cautiously because they are based on surveys with very low response rates. A larger or differently designed study might provide statistically significant evidence for the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption. However, given their findings, the researchers suggest that legislative approaches that are beyond the control of individual communities, such as alcohol taxation and restrictions on alcohol availability, may be required to effectively reduce alcohol harms. In other words, community action alone may not be the most effective way to reduce alcohol-related harm.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001617.
The World Health Organization provides detailed information about alcohol; its fact sheet on alcohol includes information about the global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol; the Global Information System on Alcohol and Health provides further information about alcohol, including information on control policies around the world
The US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has information about alcohol and its effects on health
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website on alcohol and public health that includes information on the health risks of excessive drinking
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about drinking and alcohol, including information on the risks of drinking too much, tools for calculating alcohol consumption, and personal stories about alcohol use problems
MedlinePlus provides links to many other resources on alcohol
More information about the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities project is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001617
PMCID: PMC3949675  PMID: 24618831
22.  Doctors' perceptions of palliative care for heart failure: focus group study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7364):581-585.
Objectives
To identify doctors' perceptions of the need for palliative care for heart failure and barriers to change.
Design
Qualitative study with focus groups.
Setting
North west England.
Participants
General practitioners and consultants in cardiology, geriatrics, palliative care, and general medicine.
Results
Doctors supported the development of palliative care for patients with heart failure with the general practitioner as a central figure. They were reluctant to endorse expansion of specialist palliative care services. Barriers to developing approaches to palliative care in heart failure related to three main areas: the organisation of health care, the unpredictable course of heart failure, and the doctors' understanding of roles. The health system was thought to work against provision of holistic care, exacerbated by issues of professional rivalry and control. The priorities identified for the future were developing the role of the nurse, better community support for primary care, and enhanced communication between all the health professionals involved in the care of patients with heart failure.
Conclusions
Greater consideration should be given to the care of patients dying with heart failure, clarifying the roles of doctors and nurses in different specialties, and reshaping the services provided for them. Many of the organisational and professional issues are not peculiar to patients dying with heart failure, and addressing such concerns as the lack of coordination and continuity in medical care would benefit all patients.
What is already known on this topicPatients with heart failure have unmet needs for health care at the end of lifeSpecialist palliative care services see few patients with heart failureThe national service framework for coronary heart disease endorses the provision of palliative care for heart failureLittle evidence exists on how this care should be provided, and doctors' views are not knownWhat this study addsBarriers to adopting a palliative care approach in heart failure care relate to the current organisation of health services, the difficulties of prognostication, and doctors' understanding of roles and responsibilitiesDoctors believe that the general practitioner should be the central figure in palliative care for heart failure, supported by specialistsDoctors' future priorities are developing the role of nurses, increasing essential community services, such as district nursing, and improving communication with colleagues
PMCID: PMC124557  PMID: 12228136
23.  Nursing education reform in South Africa – lessons from a policy analysis study 
Global Health Action  2014;7:10.3402/gha.v7.26401.
Background
Nursing education reform is identified as an important strategy for enhancing health workforce performance, and thereby improving the functioning of health systems. Globally, a predominant trend in such reform is towards greater professionalisation and university-based education. Related nursing education reform in South Africa culminated in a new Framework for Nursing Qualifications in 2013.
Objective
We undertook a policy analysis study of the development of the new Nursing Qualifications Framework in South Africa.
Design
We used a policy analysis framework derived from Walt and Gilson that interrogated the context, content, actors, and processes of policy development and implementation. Following informed consent, in-depth interviews were conducted with 28 key informants from national and provincial government; the South African Nursing Council; the national nursing association; nursing academics, managers, and educators; and other nursing organisations. The interviews were complemented with a review of relevant legislation and policy documents. Documents and interview transcripts were coded thematically using Atlas-ti software.
Results
The revision of nursing qualifications was part of the post-apartheid transformation of nursing, but was also influenced by changes in the education sector. The policy process took more than 10 years to complete and the final Regulations were promulgated in 2013. The two most important changes are the requirement for a baccalaureate degree to qualify as a professional nurse and abolishing the enrolled nurse with 2 years training in favour of a staff nurse with a 3-year college diploma. Respondents criticised slow progress, weak governance by the Nursing Council and the Department of Health, limited planning for implementation, and the inappropriateness of the proposals for South Africa.
Conclusions
The study found significant weaknesses in the policy capacity of the main institutions responsible for the leadership and governance of nursing in South Africa, which will need to be addressed if important nursing education reforms are to be realised.
doi:10.3402/gha.v7.26401
PMCID: PMC4275647  PMID: 25537941
nursing; nursing education; professionalisation; policy analysis; education reform; South Africa
24.  Managing boundaries in primary care service improvement: A developmental approach to communities of practice 
Background
Effective implementation of change in healthcare organisations involves multiple professional and organisational groups and is often impeded by professional and organisational boundaries that present relatively impermeable barriers to sharing knowledge and spreading work practices. Informed by the theory of communities of practice (CoPs), this study explored the effects of intra-organisational and inter-organisational boundaries on the implementation of service improvement within and across primary healthcare settings and on the development of multiprofessional and multi-organisational CoPs during this process.
Methods
The study was conducted within the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) for Greater Manchester—a collaborative partnership between the University of Manchester and local National Health Service organisations aiming to undertake applied health research and enhance its implementation in clinical practice. It deployed a qualitative embedded case study design, encompassing semistructured interviews, direct observation and documentary analysis, conducted in 2010–2011. The sample included practice doctors, nurses, managers and members of the CLAHRC implementation team.
Findings
The study showed that in spite of epistemic and status differences, professional boundaries between general practitioners, practice nurses and practice managers co-located in the same practice over a relatively long period of time could be successfully bridged, leading to the formation of multiprofessional CoPs. While knowledge circulated relatively easily within these CoPs, barriers to knowledge sharing emerged at the boundary separating them from other groups existing in the same primary care setting. The strongest boundaries, however, lay between individual general practices, with inter-organisational knowledge sharing and collaboration between them remaining unequally developed across different areas due to historical factors, competition and strong organisational identification. Manipulated emergence of multi-organisational CoPs in the context of primary care may thus be problematic.
Conclusions
In cases when manipulated emergence of new CoPs is problematic, boundary issues could be addressed by adopting a developmental perspective on CoPs, which provides an alternative to the analytical and instrumental perspectives previously described in the CoP literature. This perspective implies a pragmatic, situational approach to mapping existing CoPs and their characteristics and potentially modifying them in the process of service improvement through the combination of internal and external facilitation.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-7-97
PMCID: PMC3514317  PMID: 23068016
Communities of practice; Professional boundaries; Organisational boundaries; Primary care; Service improvement; National Health Service; CLAHRC; UK
25.  Beyond policy and planning to practice: getting sexual health on the agenda in Aboriginal communities in Western Australia 
Background
Indigenous Australians have significantly poorer status on a large range of health, educational and socioeconomic measures and successive Australian governments at state and federal level have committed to redressing these disparities. Despite this, improvements in Aboriginal health status have been modest, and Australia has much greater disparities in the health of its Indigenous people compared to countries that share a history characterised by colonisation and the dispossession of indigenous populations such as New Zealand, Canada and the United States of America. Efforts at policy and planning must ultimately be translated into practical strategies. This article outlines an approach that was effective in Western Australia in increasing the engagement and concern of Aboriginal people about high rates of sexually transmissible infections and sexual health issues. Many aspects of the approach are relevant for other health issues.
Results
The complexity of Indigenous sexual health necessitates inter-agency and cross-governmental collaboration, in addition to Aboriginal leadership, accurate data, and community support. A recent approach covering all these areas is described. This has resulted in Aboriginal sexual health being more actively discussed within Aboriginal health settings than it once was and additional resources for Indigenous sexual health being available, with better communication and partnership across different health service providers and sectors. The valuable lessons in capacity building, collaboration and community engagement are readily transferable to other health issues, and may be useful for other health professionals working in the challenging area of Aboriginal health.
Conclusion
Health service planners and providers grapple with achieving Aboriginal ownership and leadership regarding their particular health issue, despite sincere concern and commitment to addressing Aboriginal health issues. This highlights the need to secure genuine Aboriginal engagement. Building capacity that enables Indigenous people and communities to fulfill their own goals is a long-term strategy and requires sustained commitment, but we argue is a prerequisite for better Indigenous health outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-5-3
PMCID: PMC2430582  PMID: 18485244

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