The impact of interprofessional communication/collaboration during times of transition for cancer patients with advanced disease - systematic analysis using an electronic learning module

Date

2012-07-19

Authors

Fox, Lee Ann

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Abstract

The challenges associated with ensuring continuity of care for patients within the context of contemporary health care delivery are significant. One of the key challenges within a specialty field such as Oncology care involves adjusting to the always-changing foci of the practitioners and students rotating through the Oncology program. When team membership is under constant change and when the learning goals of students disrupt established patterns for ensuring continuity of care for patients, explicit communication strategies are needed to maintain quality in patient care. Undergraduate health professional education in Oncology is quite limited and, in order to ensure recruitment of appropriately trained professionals, the Oncology unit has an incentive to adjust to this constantly changing population of learner-providers. Recent emphasis on interprofessional practice suggests that many of these challenges may be off-set by fostering effective interprofessional teamwork. The purpose of this project was to determine the effectiveness of a standardized tool, the Palliative Performance Scale (PPS), in supporting interprofessional teamwork. The impact of interprofessional communication/collaboration during times of transition (e.g. progressive disease, physical deterioration) for cancer patients with advanced disease has not been widely studied and is an opportunity for further research that investigates these critical issues. Online educational modules designed to enhance use of the PPS and thus to have a Impact of Inter-professional Collaboration iv positive impact on interprofessional practice can be used by students and healthcare practitioners to augment their knowledge of how practicing within a team context is different from, and in some ways similar to, current models of practice. The Victoria Hospice Palliative Performance Scale (PPS) (Victoria Hospice, 1996), is a valid, reliable, functional assessment tool that has been integrated into a larger project within the province of Ontario, the Palliative Care Integration Project (PCIP). Consistent use of the PPS by care providers has the potential to streamline communication between providers and to predict the need for potential resources that would support patients and families through palliative transitions. Although the tool’s capacity as a prognostic device is not fully understood (Lau, et al., 2007), it can illustrate how quickly a patient’s condition is changing and may help healthcare providers support patients and their families through transitions and decisions at end of life. Through the development of an electronic module incorporating the PPS, practitioners were encouraged to engage in work using common assessment tools to enhance their interprofessional communication (that is, within the context of interprofessional practice) with the aim of improving patient care. Reports from this group of healthcare professionals indicate that highly functioning interprofessional teams have embedded within their culture the attributes of collaboration and patient-centred care. Systematic analysis of the reports of professionals following exposure to the PPS learning module indicate that use of a common assessment tool such as the PPS generates team-based knowledge that could be used by team members to begin the transition from active to palliative treatment early. Administrative support both within the organization and within the larger healthcare system is required to ensure all healthcare providers have the opportunity to engage in interprofessional, patient-centred practice.

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Keywords

impact, interprofessional, communication, collaboration, transition, cancer, patient, advanced disease, systematic analysis, electronic learning module

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