HealthcarePapers 7(2) November 2006 : 53-61.doi:10.12927/hcpap..18558
In the complex health arena, a key proposition is that no person acting alone is as effective as a team to drive best practices and outcomes. Another key factor supporting best outcomes is access to the best information to support best choices. Currently, stakeholders suffer from a paucity of real-world knowledge of actual practices and outcomes that allows care gaps to go undiscovered. A body of evidence indicates that measurement and timely feedback of actual practices can decrease the gaps between usual and best care. This is driven by the stakeholders' desire to be the best they can be, and it is enabled by the measured knowledge of where practices fall short of gold standards. The addition of patient partners to such communities of care offers promise of further acceleration and broader impact of knowledge translation and associated beneficial outcomes. For example, in the Improving Cardiac Outcomes in Nova Scotia (ICONS) community-based heart disease project, there was a marked decrease in rates of re-hospitalization over the five-year course of the project. This improvement was only very weakly, or not at all, related to traditional risk factors, such as the presence of multiple illnesses or older age, or to the use of efficacious medical therapies. However, ICONS provided an extensive and repeated multimedia communication among patients, families and providers of project goals, strategy and general news, as well as repeated measurements of practices and outcomes. One outcome of this shared knowledge may have been the reduced need for re-hospitalization. While exact cause-and-effect relationships remain uncertain, patient-provider integrated health networks appear feasible and offer promise for efficient knowledge creation and its population-effective translation. The model and its implementation may be improved by testing further locally responsive initiatives in innovative partnership clusters and by training more personnel resources in inter-professional settings.
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