Enabling Collaboration Within Health Systems

Margaret Champion's picture
Submitted by Margaret Champion on Jun 5, 2014 - 2:43pm CDT

Resource Type: 
Journal Article

Enabling collaboration is presently a topic of great interest within the Canadian health system. Perhaps due to its inherent complexity, collaboration in not easily summarized in a single definition, nor has its efficacy been validated through empirical evidence. Until proven otherwise, an ongoing justification for improving collaboration in health systems remains that it intuitively makes sense.    

What does seem clear is that collaboration’s ultimate success or failure will be affected by a combination of interactional, organizational and systemic determinants that include: 

  • Commitment
  • Mutual trust and respect
  • Organizational structures and leadership
  • Philosophy, values and client centredness
  • Health human resource planning and funding models
  • Support and resources
  • Coordination and communication of care
  • Learning environments
  • Professional systems
  • Legal systems
  • Ethics
  • Evidence

This paper provides an overview of the challenges and opportunities associated with these interactional, organizational and systemic determinants.   

Failed attempts to achieve collaboration should not solely be blamed on what are perceived to be external factors.  Instead, it should be recognized that collaboration is a dynamic human process that is for all of us to create and own.   

This review resulted in the development of two simple tools, meant to assist individual providers, clients, health system organizations, educational institutions, governments, researchers and other stakeholders as they assess and plan how to work together more collaboratively.  The tools are located in this document’s Appendix.   

As stakeholders make commitments to facilitate collaborative practice environments, it is hoped that more evidence will emerge, better informing the specifics related to enabling collaboration in health systems.   

Margaret Champion
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