Measuring the Impact of Interprofessional Education on Collaborative Practice and Patient Outcomes
Interest in interprofessional education (IPE) and collaborative practice continue to grow (Frenk et al., 2010; Cox & Naylor,2013) but whether IPE improves clinical outcomes is uncertain. A recent report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is another step toward building a solid evidence base linking IPE to patient, population, and health system outcomes (IOM,2015). The report lays out general guidelines for designing, analysing, and reporting studies of IPE across the health professional learning continuum. The report contains recommended actions that a broad spectrum of interprofessional stakeholders, including health profession educators, academic and health system leaders, and funders and policy makers, can take to better measure the impact of IPE beyond the classroom in actual clinical practice. Through a critical analysis of the currently available literature and from examples for how to conduct studies of IPE, the authors believe the report could provide a new conceptual framework for thinking about IPE across the entire learning continuum (foundational education, graduate education, and continued professional development) and be a catalyst for additional well-designed studies that confirm connections between IPE and patient, population, and health system outcomes.
This editorial briefly describes the key findings of the IOM (2015) report. It begins with a description of the consensus committee that wrote the report, the committee’s charge, and some examples of the type of evidence reviewed. The report provided the rationale for the committee’s selection of key routes for strengthening the evidence base, which include better alignment of health professions education and the health care delivery system, development of a conceptual framework encompassing IPE and learning and clinical outcomes, and employment of a mixed-methods approach for analysing these outcomes. The final section offers some additional suggestions in the area of study design.