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Open Access Highly Accessed Correspondence

Development and early experience from an intervention to facilitate teamwork between general practices and allied health providers: the Team-link study

Mark F Harris1*, Bibiana C Chan1, Christopher Daniel2, Qing Wan1, Nick Zwar3, Gawaine Powell Davies1 and Team-link project team

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, University of New South Wales, UNSW, Sydney, 2052, Australia

2 Central Sydney GP Network, 158 Liverpool Rd, Ashfield, 2131, Australia

3 School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, UNSW, Sydney, 2052, Australia

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BMC Health Services Research 2010, 10:104  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-104

Published: 27 April 2010

Abstract

Background

This paper describes the development and implementation of an intervention to facilitate teamwork between general practice and outside allied and community health services and providers.

Methods

A review of organizational theory and a qualitative study of 9 practices was used to design an intervention which was applied in four Divisions of General Practice and 26 urban practices. Clinical record review and qualitative interviews with participants were used to determine the key lessons from its implementation.

Results

Facilitating teamwork across organizational boundaries was very challenging. The quality of the relationship between professionals was of key importance. This was enabled by joint education and direct communication between providers. Practice nurses were key links between general practices and allied and community health services.

Conclusions

Current arrangements for Team Care planning provide increased opportunities for access to allied health. However the current paper based system is insufficient to build relationships or effectively share roles as part of a patient care team. Facilitation is feasible but constrained by barriers to communication and trust.