A Collaborative is a specific method of quality improvement used to distribute and adapt existing knowledge to multiple groups to achieve a common aim. The Collaborative methodology has been successfully applied to general practices, community health services, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and Aboriginal Medical Services since 2005. The Collaborative methodology is user friendly and simple to apply. It promotes rapid change, allowing your team to create results and reap the rewards in short time frames.
The Collaborative framework, as used in the APCC Program, started with the selection of Program topics, then Expert Reference Panels (ERPs) were formed to develop aims, measures, change principles’ and change ideas for each topic. This work was then compiled into the Program handbooks. Practices that participated in the Program attended an orientation session and a series of learning workshops, undertaking improvement and change activities in their General Practice service during the activity periods and collecting monthly data to track their progress.
The Role of the Expert Reference Panels
The Expert Reference Panels consisted of a range of research and clinical experts in each particular topic area of the Program. Their job was to identify the topic aims, measures, change principles, develop strategies and ideas for implementing change and to suggest measures for tracking these changes. The change principles are milestones that the practice should aim to achieve, while change ideas are the practical steps that can be used to achieve them.
Aims and Measures
Each topic in the Program has a specific aim. Aims are targets that will assist in achieving the overall objective for the Program. Measures are the data collected for tracking improvements.
General Practices that joined the APCC Program participated in a ‘wave’. A GP and a staff member from each health service came together with other health services in their wave to participate in the Program. A wave was made up of an orientation session followed by a series of learning workshops. A program ‘wave’ duration was approximately 12 months.
Measuring for Improvement
General Practices collected baseline data at the beginning of their Program wave. This provided an important snapshot of their position before they began making improvements. Health services tracked their improvements through online monthly data submissions.
Learning workshops allowed participants to hear from topic area and quality improvement experts to learn the latest insights on how to improve their General Practice using quality improvement methods. Learning workshops consisted of face to face workshops and webinars.
The periods of time between and after learning workshops were titled ‘Activity Periods’. The Activity Periods enabled the practice team to test ideas using the Model for Improvement and carry out change.